AUBURN — Healthy Androscoggin has been awarded a Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) grant by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

Through the grant, Healthy Androscoggin formed the REACH Partnership — a collaborative effort between eight local health and wellness providers to increase cultural competency through trainings, community outreach and translation and production of health materials. Each of the eight partners has undergone or will undergo training so that they can understand cultural differences and serve this population more effectively.

The eight organizations involved in the REACH Partnership include:

• Androscoggin Home Care & Hospice, which is sharing information about what hospice services are and how they can be utilized appropriately in immigrant and refugee populations;

• Bedard Pharmacy, which developed a sheet of pictographic representations of how to safely take and store medications to help non-native English speakers make sure that they understand directions for each medication;

• Community Clinical Services/B Street Clinic, which is developing a patient satisfaction survey for African New Mainers that will inform their services, as well as instructional videos for health care providers and those new to accessing the health care system;

• Central Maine Medical Center’s National Diabetes Prevention Program, which is adjusting its 12-month lifestyle change program for Somali participants to include culturally appropriate foods and lifestyle activities;

• SeniorsPlus, which is working to develop and implement a downtown seniors’ dining site specifically for immigrant and refugee elders;

• St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center, which is active in training front-line staff to be able to offer services to a diversity of patients in a culturally and linguistically appropriate way;

• United Ambulance, which is addressing the specific needs of New Mainers, the Community Paramedicine home visit program by investing in cultural competency training for staff as well as a reworking of patient tracking forms to better represent the diverse community; and 

• YWCA of Central Maine, which offers a single-gender swim program that is attended almost entirely by Muslim women, as well as a women’s walking group to promote healthy lifestyles.

Over the past several years, the Lewiston-Auburn area has experienced a significant increase in immigrants and refugees, primarily from African countries, who now account for 11.2 percent of the area’s population, according to Healthy Androscoggin.

Among these African New Mainers, some common health issues include diabetes, high blood pressure, lack of exercise and prescription drug confusion.

While the L-A area has many health care and wellness organizations, a number of these institutions lack the experience, capacity and understanding to best serve the rapidly diversifying population.

As the REACH grant enters its third and final year, outreach efforts and trainings will continue to increase to help better serve the community and address the issues of chronic disease in the adult African New Mainer population.

FMI: www.healthyandroscoggin.org/reach.


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