Thanks to a grant from the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, two neighboring counties in eastern North Carolina can use data analysis and visualization to enhance public health programs, reduce duplicate efforts and more efficiently serve their populations.

Amy Belflower Thomas
Amy Belflower Thomas

The $192,265 award will allow the North Carolina Institute for Public Health (NCIPH) — the service and outreach arm of UNC’s Gillings School of Global Public Health — to gather important community-level data and then develop easy-to-understand data products, including GIS maps and other innovative visual tools, all to assist Edgecombe and Nash counties in improving community health.

The neighboring counties, which have a combined population of 150,000, have county health rankings that are among the lowest in the state, primarily as a result of socioeconomic conditions. Each county also has a higher percentage of people who are Medicaid-eligible than the state average of 17 percent. (Nash County: 20 percent; Edgecombe County: 31 percent)

To address these challenges, agencies and non-profit organizations in both counties have developed multiple resources that aim to improve health and/or socioeconomic conditions that affect health. However, these resources are often “siloed” and not visible to agencies that refer persons in need or to the community as a whole.

“Thanks to this grant from the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, the great work that these agencies are already doing will be greatly amplified,” said Amy Belflower Thomas, who will administer the two-year grant for NCIPH. “We are very grateful, because this project will have a great impact on health services on Eastern North Carolina.”

The grant will build upon the foundation provided by a new network of more than 50 agencies in the two counties, called the Twin Counties Partnership for Healthier Communities (TCPHC).  The member agencies provide a robust mix of services, with many specifically addressing issues of access to primary care, community-centered prevention, diabetes, and mental health and substance abuse.

At least three-quarters of these agencies target predominantly minority, financially needy and underserved persons. The TCPHC serves to share information and ideas and to develop collective approaches for addressing health issues, but the group faces challenges.

“Like many rural areas in North Carolina, agencies in Nash and Edgecombe county struggle with a lack of reliable local-level data about the health needs in the community and where or whether there are available services to meet those needs, so it’s virtually impossible to gain a community-level perspective,” Belflower Thomas said. “We can bring capacity in community-level survey collection to gain information about knowledge of health/wellness resources and health services access issues directly from community members. Combined with mapping analysis of existing resources and other secondary data on health status, we hope to provide a better picture of what gaps exist in the community and where. Then, agencies can use this information to better provide services to those who need them and possibly expand services if needed.”

“By focusing on change at the system level, this project aims to improve the potential impact of the various health-related programs, services and resources in these two counties,” Belflower Thomas said. “More information means better delivery of services.”

About The Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust

The Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust was established in 1947 and is now one of the largest private trusts in North Carolina. Its mission is to improve the quality of life and quality of health for the financially needy of North Carolina. The Health Care Division promotes wellness state-wide by investing in prevention and treatment. The Poor and Needy Division of the Trust responds to basic life needs and invests in solutions that improve the quality of life and health for financially needy residents of Forsyth County. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. serves as sole trustee.

UNC Development contact: Kim Elenez, (919) 962-1628, kelenez@email.unc.edu

Comments are closed.