GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A total of $1 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds will go to create better health in Grand Rapids’ African American community.
The money is from Kent County’s $127 million cut of the American Rescue Plan Act and was awarded to the Grand Rapids African American Health Institute.
“It will provide us with an opportunity to have greater outreach, greater impact to the communities that greatly need it,” GRAAHI CEO Vanessa Greene said.
The pandemic exposed several flaws in the U.S. health care system. One of the most critical is inequity.
It’s not a new problem.
Numbers from the institute tell the story, from lung cancer risk to HIV infections and obesity.
There are several reasons why people in the African American community are impacted greater than people who are white, including mistrust in the system, economic and social barriers.
“So when people are experiencing medical conditions, they’re not easily visiting hospitals, medical centers to get checked out,” Greene said. “So typically, it takes a while when the condition amplifies to a point where its severe enough that they can’t put it off any longer.“
That’s where the GRAAHI comes in.
Working with clinical and other partners, the ARPA grant will be used the address those inequities head on.
“The funding will be used for educational (purposes), but also providing awareness and support, and helping the community access the resources and the clinical care that’s available in the community,” Greene said.
Everything from physician referrals to transportation to housing needs.
“We will be working with them on holistic needs to support their mental and physical health. Because when one condition is underserved, then it effects the body and the mind and the spirit,” Greene said.
It’s not a new mission for GRAAHI.
Founded in in 2002, they’ve been successfully addressing these issue for the past two decades.
COVID-19 provided one of the organization’s greatest challenges.
“It’s a long haul,” Greene said. “And these million dollars will significantly improve our ability to continue to serve the needs of the community.”