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Obici Healthcare Foundation gives $2.6M in grants

With a mission that mirrors almost exactly that of the Obici Healthcare Foundation, the Western Tidewater Free Clinic is once again this year one of the Foundation’s primary beneficiaries.

Foundation officials announced this week that the Free Clinic would receive $450,000 to use to expand access to comprehensive health care for low-income, uninsured residents and to fund programs that will improve the clinic’s ability to continue to stand on its own.

Gina Pitrone, executive director for the Suffolk-based philanthropic organization, told grant recipients and others attending a grant workshop on Tuesday that the Foundation had agreed to award more than $2.6 million in the round of grants that became available at the beginning of the month. The money will be divided among 33 different agencies serving Western Tidewater, she said.

Aside from helping the Foundation achieve its mission of “responding to the medical needs of the indigent and uninsured and by supporting programs which have the primary purpose of preventing illness and disease,” those programs that will receive support in the Foundation’s ninth round of grants have something of a common theme — fighting chronic disease — Pitrone said during a break in the meeting.

The Foundation takes a two-pronged approach to attacking the problem of chronic disease, she explained. On one hand, it seeks to help agencies — like the Western Tidewater Free Clinic — expand access to health care. On the other hand, it also funds programs that are designed to help prevent health problems, especially obesity, which affects Western Tidewater disproportionately and can result in a variety of other health problems.

Toward the second goal, the Foundation awarded its second biggest grant this round, for $206,000, to Suffolk Public Schools to help develop and implement a plan combat obesity. The schools also will receive $75,000 to encourage teachers and students to incorporate exercise and nutritional information into their curriculum.

“The bottom line is, if we can just get people to be more active,” Pitrone said during the break.

Another big grant, for $200,000 will go to the Western Tidewater Community Services Board to help set up an outpatient medical detox center that would provide daily medical checks, medication and counseling and therapy sessions, as well as “continuity of care and discharge planning,” according to a news release announcing the grants.

“Grants made by the Foundation continue Amedeo Obici’s legacy to provide access to medical care for all,” Pitrone said in the release. “Mr. Obici, the founder of Planter’s Peanuts, was successful in business and passionate about helping the people in Western Tidewater.”

Among the larger grants are the following:

  • Bon Secours Maryview Foundation: $150,000 for Care-A-Van, a mobile medical van that will provide free, mobile medical services to the medically underserved in Western Tidewater.
  • Sentara Louise Obici Memorial Hospital: $137,283 for a Newborn and Family Screening and Referral pilot program to implement hospital-based screening of all families at a child’s birth to identify their needs and risk factors, provide parent-building resources and information and link to community services.
  • Paul D. Camp Community College: $110,585 for a “human simulation laboratory” in Suffolk that will help enhance students’ critical thinking and clinical decision-making.
  • Western Tidewater Health District: $95,780 for a nurse-family partnership program intended to improve pregnancy outcomes in Franklin and Isle of Wight by helping women improve prenatal health, child health and development and economic self-sufficiency.
  • Senior Services of Southeastern Virginia: $90,965 for a transportation assessment and plan for Suffolk, Franklin, Isle of Wight and Southampton.
  • Suffolk Partnership for a Healthy Community: $87,600 for the Building a Healthy Suffolk through Partnership program, which will help develop a comprehensive plan to encourage an active lifestyle for Suffolk citizens. The Partnership also will receive $32,300 for the first phase of the Positive Lifestyle Commitment Program for Individual Wellness, a multi-year, community-wide comprehensive health care management program, designed to “empower individuals with the tools needed to improve their health status.”
  • ForKids, Inc.: $75,000 to provide all families with case management based on a model that has proved to be successful in re-housing the homeless.
  • Catholic Charities of Eastern Virginia: $71,418 for two life coaches at Sentara Obici Hospital who will work directly with uninsured, underinsured or indigent patients who use the emergency department for primary care. Catholic Charities also will receive $28,292 for a FAMIS outreach program for uninsured pregnant women and families of children who do not have health insurance.
  • Suffolk Family YMCA: $75,000 for a jump rope program to increase cardiovascular fitness and physical strength for youth participants, while reducing time with TV or video games.

Among the other organizations to receive grant money were the following: ACCESS AIDS, Access Partnership, Albermarle Health, the American Diabetes Association, the American Heart Association, the city of Suffolk, the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia, Mother Seton House Inc., the Peninsula Institute for Community Health, RX Partnership, Smart Beginnings Western Tidewater, the Suffolk Department of Social Services, The Children’s Center, the Up Center, the Virginia Diabetes Council and the Virginia Legal Aid Society.