Wed, March 22, 2023 8:45 p.m
Funding secured by Congressman provides health services to neighborhoods in Erie, Niagara and throughout WNY
Congressman Brian Higgins announced that $933,800 in federal funding had been awarded to the University at Buffalo School of Public Health and Health Professions. This community project funding, secured by Higgins as part of the FY2023 budget, will support a mobile health unit in medically underserved communities in Erie, Niagara and surrounding counties in the western New York area.
“A healthy lifestyle starts with access to health care,” Higgins said. “From regular appointments with family doctors to signing up for affordable health insurance, far too many people living in the underserved communities of western New York don’t have access to the resources to meet their health care needs,” Higgins said. “The University at Buffalo Mobile Health Clinic will build on existing partnerships to meet those most in need in our community where they live to provide comprehensive care. With this important federal budget funding, we can remove barriers to supply and make a long-term investment in a healthier future for our community.”
Higgins’ team said: “Research has consistently shown that the lack of reliable transport is a significant barrier to accessing health services and meeting appointments, particularly for people living in underserved areas. Federal funding secured by Congressman Higgins will enable the University of Buffalo to set up a mobile health clinic. The clinic will address the immediate needs of families living in underserved areas in the cities of Buffalo and Niagara Falls, as well as rural communities throughout the western New York area, while serving the next generation of medical, dental, pharmacist, nurse, social worker, nutritionist , sports training, physical therapy, occupational therapy, exercise science and public health professionals.
“Led by the University at Buffalo School of Public Health and Health Professions, the mobile clinic will assess health care needs in these communities, conduct screening visits and preventive services, provide health care, provide referrals to primary health care, and help individuals and families navigate to health services , that they need. It will focus on wellness and prevention with other services including health assessments, physical exams, mental health assessments, nutritional advice, blood pressure checks, vaccines, diabetes assessments and pharmaceutical advice. Clinic staff help patients schedule appointments, arrange transportation needs, assist with obtaining health insurance, and overcome language barriers. By providing comprehensive care, the clinic will also increase access to other basic needs such as food and social services that support overall community well-being and economic security. By meeting with members of the community in their neighborhoods, it will also provide the opportunity for the University at Buffalo to partner with the community to develop long-term programs that address the health needs in each community it serves.”
UB President Satish K. Tripathi said, “As a public research university, UB is driven by our mission to partner with members of our community so we can better understand and best address the healthcare needs of our region. By focusing on the needs of our neighbors who are medically underserved, we will work collaboratively with our community to achieve health equity – a goal we have long shared with Congressman Higgins.”
This mobile unit, based at the Seneca-Babcock Community Association, will serve a broad spectrum of approximately 30,000 voters in the city of Buffalo. The university will also work to form partnerships with Erie and Niagara counties to make the mobile health unit regularly available to low-income residents living in both urban and rural areas of western New York. UB will also allow these communities access to their existing UB Mobile Treatment Units as much as possible.
Bryan Bollman, Buffalo Common Council member, said: “One of my top priorities as a council member is to break down the barriers that residents face. Whether it’s food or medical shortages, we need to provide better accessibility for residents. I salute the congressman for bringing federal dollars to the district and for locating a mobile health clinic here at the Seneca-Babcock Community Association.”
The Higgins team shared, “The Seneca-Babcock Community Association is committed to developing and improving the quality of life for residents of the Lovejoy neighborhood, including at-risk youth, adults, families and seniors. Her goal is to instill a strong sense of empowerment through participation in educational, economic, social and health programs, and we will support those goals through this effort.”
Jean Wactawski-Wende, dean of UB’s School of Public Health and Health Professions and leader of the newly funded program, said: “We have already established partnerships with the Seneca-Babcock community, including a weekly pantry run by members of our UB becomes faculty and students. We will also work regularly with UB’s mobile dental unit to coordinate care in these regions. The funding provided by Congressman Higgins will allow us to extend our services and support to neighborhoods most in need. Funding the mobile unit gives our UB professional students the opportunity to serve the community and provide coordinated care across many healthcare disciplines. We believe the program will serve as a national model for interprofessional practice.”