Merrimack Valley Cities win Health District Grant

January 25, 2012     

Merrimack Valley Cities win Health District Grant

The Cities of Methuen, Haverhill, and Lawrence have received a grant from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to create the Merrimack Valley Health District.  The grant will enable the three cities to enter into long-term agreements for sharing of resources and coordinating public health services.  The Public Health District Incentive Grant program is made possible by federal funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and is aimed at strengthening local public health infrastructures across the nation.  Massachusetts is one of only 14 states that received funding for the initiative, which was made possible through the Prevention and Public Health Fund created by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010.  Methuen, Haverhill and Lawrence received one of only five grants awarded in the state of Massachusetts.

“This is a great opportunity for Methuen to join with our Merrimack Valley neighbors in strengthening public health in our region,” said Mayor Stephen Zanni. “I am really excited for our cities to be getting this funding.”

“This is a perfect example of municipalities collaborating on a regional level to ensure the best possible health services to our citizenry” stated Mayor William Lantigua of Lawrence.

The newly created Public Health Districts will receive a total of $325,000 over the course of four years, beginning with a $100,000 grant in 2012. The funding will help to assure that the three cities can address core responsibilities of health departments, including communicable disease control, environmental health protection, and chronic disease reduction.  The grant will fund a full-time public health nurse and part-time environmental health inspector.  The new health district will work with community partners, including local hospitals and health centers to develop a community health assessment that will identify priority public health needs.
The three city health departments play vital roles in preventing communicable diseases.  New and re-emerging diseases, such as H1N1 flu, West Nile virus, EEE and diseases spread by ticks, and the prevalence of diseases associated with obesity, underscore the importance of maintaining public health services.  Recent food related outbreaks also call for strong enforcement of food safety regulations.  The Merrimack Valley Health District grant will enable the three cities to expand their limited resources to meet these public health demands for the residents of Methuen, Haverhill, and Lawrence.