Grant Funding Awarded to Help Sussex County Seniors

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U.S. Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons announced a $750,000 grant award from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to CHEER Senior Services, La Red Health Center and Educational Health Resources International (EHRI), the nonprofit arm of Nationwide Healthcare Services at the Milford Wellness Village. The grant award will help develop a program to help Sussex County’s most vulnerable seniors remain healthy in their homes. The Innovations in Nutrition Programs and Services grant award from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is one of only seven given out nationwide.

The organizations will work over three years to strengthen the local coordination of care for the most medically vulnerable seniors aging in place in Sussex County, and prevent traumatic and costly medical and life-compromising crises. The goal will be to replicate this program across Delaware and nationwide after the three year award period is completed.

In June, Senators Carper, Coons and Congresswoman Blunt Rochester wrote a letter to the Assistant Secretary for Aging Lance Robertson in support of this grant application, which emphasized a need for developing innovative strategies to improve health and lower costs for home-bound seniors. Only seven grant applications were accepted nationwide.

“Today’s grant announcement from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will help our home-bound seniors stay out of the hospital and remain in their homes,” said Sen. Carper. “This program has the potential to lower health care costs while keeping our older loved ones as healthy as possible. These are just the kind of programs we need across the country to improve the health of our communities and address the rising costs of health care.”

“This federal funding will make a real difference for seniors in Sussex County by expanding access to necessary medical care and important health screenings,” said Sen. Coons. “As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, one of my top priorities is ensuring that important programs like this one are funded and supported, and I’m excited that these critical federal funds will help our senior citizens maintain their independence.”

“Ensuring that our seniors have access to the health care they need has been one of my top priorities since coming to Congress,” said Rep. Blunt Rochester, a member of the House Energy & Commerce Committee. “This critical funding from the Department of Health and Human Services will help meet the medical needs and maintain the independence of Delaware’s seniors.” 

The proposed program will use daily contact with volunteers delivering meals as an opportunity to improve the wellbeing and quality of life of homebound seniors over the age of 60. The program will develop a wellness checklist that will be used by volunteers to assess daily wellness and model use of a coordinator as a single point of contact who will ensure that all seniors have medical homes and a Medicare annual medical visit, while following up to make sure that all problems identified through the checklist are addressed. The program will work with researchers at the University of Delaware to compile and monitor the data.

“We at Nationwide have been taking care of frail and elderly individuals for nearly 30 years. We know what’s involved and how to deliver the most appropriate care. That’s why we are so enthusiastic about having our nonprofit arm, EHRI, participating in this research and effort to coordinate care,” said Meir Gelley, CEO of Nationwide Healthcare Services, which owns Milford Wellness Village.

“CHEER is honored to be part of the We Care partnership that will expand on our homebound meal program to bring supportive medical services to seniors who may be most in need,” said Ken Bock, chief executive officer of CHEER Senior Services.

“La Red Health Center looks forward to partnering with CHEER, the State of Delaware Division for Aging, Nationwide Healthcare Services, and the University of Delaware in the Innovations in Nutrition Grant Program and stands ready to serve as a Patient Centered Medical Home for anyone with unmet health care needs,” said La Red Health Center’s CEO Brian Olson.

“This grant is not only an investment in the welfare of our local senior community, it has the potential to improve the quality of health care and outcomes for seniors throughout our state,” said State Rep. Bryan Shupe, R-Milford South.