Tri-County Community Action Agency establishes Health Equity Zone

Tri-County Community Action Agency establishes Health Equity Zone

NORTH PROVIDENCE – Tri-County Community Action Agency has been awarded grant funding from the Rhode Island Department of Health to establish and operate a Health Equity Zone (HEZ) for the towns of North Providence, Johnston and Smithfield.

Health Equity Zones are geographic areas where existing opportunities emerge and investments are made to address differences in health outcomes by eliminating health disparities and promoting healthy communities.

The Rhode Island Health Equity Zone initiative is a place-based approach that brings communities together to build the infrastructure needed to achieve healthy, systemic changes at the local level, states a release.

The Tri-County HEZ proposes to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic with a focus on building community resilience and increasing awareness and compliance with community mitigation guidelines in the three communities served. Specifically, Tri-County HEZ proposes to combat COVID-19 by increasing community outreach and education relating to prevention, testing, contact tracing and isolation supports.

“We are excited to announce our partnership with the Rhode Island Department of Health to establish a Health Equity Zone in these communities,” said Joseph DeSantis, president and CEO of Tri-County.

“Health equity means that everyone has the opportunity to live a healthy life, and we intend to make that a reality.”

The Tri-County HEZ also intends to address local barriers to complying with COVID-19 mitigation guidelines, especially in communities disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, specifically communities of color, immigrant groups and refugee populations.

The HEZ will focus on efforts to expand mental health resources, build on community partnerships to connect individuals to needed services and support, and will engage residents, community-based organizations, local leaders, businesses, faith-based organizations, municipalities and other key community stakeholders in forming a local HEZ collaborative that will reduce health disparities by addressing social and environmental determinants of health.

The Tri-County HEZ will put boots on the ground and deliver needed supplies to residents as well, say organizers, particularly in North Providence, which has been identified as a high-density community.

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