Grant Application

Maurice Shawn Kirkland, UPMC McKeesport

Proposed Innovation

Where we live, learn, work, and play can have a tremendous impact on our health. In the McKeesport community — federally designated as a “medically underserved area” — a high percentage of families live below the poverty level and a high number of residents lack a high school diploma or college degree. Obstacles like health literacy, transportation, and care coordination prevent them from accessing health care and living healthier lives.

Through this project, UPMC McKeesport will partner with area churches to develop health promotion and wellness strategies aimed at reducing health disparities in the McKeesport community.

Improvements in Action

Churches and other faith-based organizations have a demonstrated ability to pull people together and to motivate and inspire them. Through this project, UPMC McKeesport will create a “Call to Action” Community Health Team with local churches to educate the community about health promotion, disease management, and navigation of the health care system. Clergy and church members also will provide ongoing feedback aimed at improving the patient experience, reducing barriers to care, and tackling social determinants affecting health.

A key part of the project will be the development of a health education toolkit that area churches can distribute throughout the community. These toolkits will focus on breast cancer screening and education, primary care and disease prevention, diabetes management, cardiovascular disease and stroke awareness, addiction and substance abuse prevention, behavioral health, and advance directives. Education efforts also will target emergency preparedness, including CPR and first aid instruction.

Intended Outcomes

Teaming up with local churches to provide education and health services to underserved area residents is expected to reduce health disparities and improve health awareness, prevention, and wellness throughout the community.