Vicksburg part of $3 million health care initiative from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health

Published 11:55 am Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Jackson State University, the city of Vicksburg and Jackson-Hinds Comprehensive Health have received a $3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health for a two-year initiative designed to improve and advance health literacy.

The grant will help officials enhance equitable community responses to COVID-19 and identify and implement programs for improving health literacy in Vicksburg.

“The city of Vicksburg is proud to collaborate with Jackson-Hinds Comprehensive Health Center, Jackson State University, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health for this unique opportunity to benefit our communities,” Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said.

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“By improving health literacy distribution, we’re essentially improving access to healthcare for groups of people who statistically need it most. I’m looking forward to the work ahead.”

Under the COVID 19 Health literacy, Accessibility, Management, Prevention, Intervention, Outcomes and New Skills, or CHAMPIONS, program, JSU, city and Jackson-Hinds officials will implement a health literacy intervention program targeting sections of Vicksburg’s community most likely to encounter challenges with health literacy and healthcare experiences.

“I think it is important for institutions of higher education to be at the forefront of educating communities on health-related issues so they can make informed decisions that will enhance their quality of life and, in instances, extend their life, especially in the wake of COVID-19,” said Thomas K. Hudson, president of JSU.

“This initiative is a significant step toward the elimination of health disparities caused by longstanding systemic and structural inequities.”

Many of the project’s activities will be implemented at Jackson-Hinds, the largest community health center in Central Mississippi.

The project includes training Jackson-Hinds employees to implement health literacy strategies during healthcare experiences and a plan to sustain health literacy strategies, COVID-19 policies and other future public health recommendations will be designed.

Vicksburg meets the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration definition of rural with a population of 21,653 people and according to the U.S. Census, 67 percent are Black/African American and 3 percent are Hispanic/Latino.

About 30.7 percent of Vicksburg residents meet the Census Bureau’s definition of poverty and 15 percent do not have health insurance.

“The COVID-19 Health Literacy Project will provide the opportunity for the citizens of Vicksburg to become more knowledgeable about COVID-19, its effects and prevention measures, as well as improving health literacy in the communities we serve,” said Dr. Jasmin Chapman, CEO of Jackson-Hinds Comprehensive Health.

“I would also like to thank Mississippi Representative Bennie Thompson for his insight in sharing this grant information with us.”

Besides spearheading grant-writing efforts, Jackson State will be responsible for the project evaluation.

The initiative is part of the Biden Administration’s National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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