PHILADELPHIA—Twenty-seven Penn Medicine employees and medical students recently received Penn Medicine CAREs grants for projects designed to improve wellbeing, health equity, and inclusion in the region’s most diverse and underserved populations. In addition, HopePHL was selected as the Penn Medicine CAREs Community Champion for 2022. The annual honor, in its fourth year, is awarded to a CAREs-funded program whose growth and outcomes exceeded expectations.
The Penn Medicine CAREs program, now in operation for more than a decade, supports a variety of community service efforts led by the people of Penn Medicine, including efforts to expand community access to medical care.
New grant winners include Anthony Davis, a lead community health worker at The Penn Center for Community Health Workers with Penn Medicine at Home, who will use CAREs grant funding to help local military veterans live richer, healthier lives. A social support group dubbed The Renegades, developed in partnership between Penn Medicine and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, offers a range of community events, from bowling tournaments to museum visits, that assist veterans living with post-traumatic stress disorder, other chronic illnesses, and social isolation. The grant will cover the cost of transportation and activities, including garden tools and garden seedlings for upcoming planting projects.
“Veterans who participate in The Renegades program have reported reduced blood pressure and stronger connections to their health care teams,” Davis said. “This CAREs grant will help us continue to improve the quality of life for our armed forces veterans who have served so bravely yet face a number of serious threats to their health and well-being.”
Christine Edmonds, MD, an assistant professor of Radiology in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, is using CAREs funding to upgrade technologies for community cancer screening events. In the past, teams of radiologists, oncologists, internists, nurses, and others have collected data via paper surveys at free community screening events. Thanks to CAREs grant funding, Edmonds has purchased iPads and other materials to collect this useful data at these events. This, in turn, could ensure and expedite appropriate care for vulnerable populations.
“Although cancer mortality continues to decline, progress is not shared equally across races and ethnicities,” Edmonds explained. “Black Americans in particular face marked inequities in diagnosis and treatment, which result in higher cancer mortality. Newer digital methods are more efficient and secure, and we’re thankful we can upgrade our process with support from Penn Medicine CAREs.”
Additionally, Sunny Jackson, MSN, RN, the injury prevention coordinator with the Trauma Center at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, received the annual CAREs Community Champion Award and $5,000 for HopePHL (formerly People’s Emergency Center). Penn’s Trauma Violence Recovery Program—which aims to reach Philadelphia residents treated at the Trauma Center who have survived violent injuries—works with community partners like HopePHL to help patients meet personal goals as they recover from violent injuries and help with needed resources to meet those goals. This can include housing, utility assistance, education and employment help, food assistance, mentorship, and legal assistance. The award will further Jackson’s work within the program and its partnership with HopePHL, strengthening community support for those impacted by trauma.
Other projects receiving CAREs funding this quarter include:
- Home Away from Home for Living Kidney Donors: Amanda Leonberg-Yoo, MD, an assistant professor of Renal Electrolyte and Hypertension, is using CAREs funding to help those who become living donors—when a living person donates an organ, or part of an organ, for transplantation to another person. The funds will be used to help donors cover the costs of travel and lodging related to the donation process, an amount estimated to exceed $3,000 for many individuals.
- Santa’s Spokes: For several years, Kristen Schaefer, MHA, a program manager with Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health, has teamed up with this Lancaster-area non-profit to distribute bicycles to needy school children during the holidays. This CAREs grant covered the costs of new bikes and accessories, with remaining funds used to purchase special holiday meals for local families who need them.
- Better Musculoskeletal Care for Homeless Women: Over the past five years, Maya Therattil, MD, a Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation specialist with Penn Medicine, has volunteered with HomeFront, a nonprofit working to end homelessness in central New Jersey. In that time, Therattil noticed that many of the organization’s female clients experience musculoskeletal problems. She will use this CAREs grant to purchase physical therapy equipment, including weights and exercise mats. The goal of the grant is not just to improve musculoskeletal health but to teach homeless women how to improve their own self-care.
Since its inception in 2012, the CAREs grant program has provided over $900,000 to more than 900 initiatives serving people and communities across Penn Medicine’s service area. CAREs grant funding can be used for projects big and small, as well as for new or existing efforts. Grants are distributed based on the quality of the program, the need it aims to address, and potential overall impact.
For more information, visit PennMedicine.org/CAREs. For more information on the CAREs Grant or community outreach programs, visit PennMedicine.org/Community.
Penn Medicine is one of the world’s leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, excellence in patient care, and community service. The organization consists of the University of Pennsylvania Health System and Penn’s Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine, founded in 1765 as the nation’s first medical school.
The Perelman School of Medicine is consistently among the nation's top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $550 million awarded in the 2022 fiscal year. Home to a proud history of “firsts” in medicine, Penn Medicine teams have pioneered discoveries and innovations that have shaped modern medicine, including recent breakthroughs such as CAR T cell therapy for cancer and the mRNA technology used in COVID-19 vaccines.
The University of Pennsylvania Health System’s patient care facilities stretch from the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania to the New Jersey shore. These include the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, Chester County Hospital, Lancaster General Health, Penn Medicine Princeton Health, and Pennsylvania Hospital—the nation’s first hospital, founded in 1751. Additional facilities and enterprises include Good Shepherd Penn Partners, Penn Medicine at Home, Lancaster Behavioral Health Hospital, and Princeton House Behavioral Health, among others.
Penn Medicine is an $11.1 billion enterprise powered by more than 49,000 talented faculty and staff.