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Faculty & Staff Honors

Faculty & Staff Honors

East Tennessee Receives Blue Cross Grant to Support Rural Health Improvement

Ms. Ginny Kidwell, director of the Tennessee Institute of Public Health located at East Tennessee State University’s College of Public Health, has been awarded a major grant from the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation. The grant has two parts. The first part, called “Regional Roadmap 2: Down the Road to a Healthier Appalachia,” is a grant that will allow TNIPH to continue the highly successful Regional Roadmap to a Healthier Appalachia project originally funded in 2013. In the original proposal, the TNIPH used a mini-grant program to fund 20 community-based health initiatives in rural Tennessee areas. Each initiative was a locally-generated project to improve the health and welfare of those living in the host community. Topics covered by the first grant included substance abuse, cancer, diabetes, cultural factors, lack of education, and economic issues. The success of that initial project has resulted in the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation awarding Kidwell the second grant to significantly expand the geographic range and overall size of the effort.

The second part of the new grant, called “Healthy WEST: Working to Energize and Strengthen Tennessee,” will allow TNIPH to expand the Regional Roadmap project to rural counties in west Tennessee.  TNIPH received a combined $150,000 between the two new grants.

“I am really pleased that Ms. Kidwell’s outstanding work with the original Regional Roadmap for a Healthier Appalachian Tennessee has met with such a positive response – from the community and from the many organizations that helped to sponsor it,” said Dr. Randy Wykoff, dean of the ETSU College of Public Health.

The BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation was a major sponsor of the first project, joining the Niswonger Foundation, the Appalachian Regional Commission, and the Eastman Foundation.

“The first cycle of projects documented that mini-grants can effectively support community-generated programs to improve health,” Kidwell said. “The new grants will allow TNIPH to expand into 52 Appalachian counties in east and middle Tennessee and into 20 west Tennessee counties where similar health and economic challenges exist.”

The TNIPH is a partnership of public and private health agencies, organizations and academic institutions established to maximize resources for the purpose of promoting health research, education and service focused on improving the health of all Tennesseans.