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Memorial Hospital Awarded $2 Million Federal Grant

New local program will support children, families exposed to trauma

Memorial Hospital of South Bend is one of just seven organizations in the U.S. to receive $2 million in federal funding under a new grant program called “Communities Addressing Childhood Trauma” from the Office of Minority Health and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The Community Health Enhancement division at Memorial Hospital will develop a five-year program intended to test the effectiveness of innovative approaches to address unhealthy behaviors among minority and disadvantaged youth. The “Community Resilience Center” project will be designed to provide youth with opportunities to learn coping skills and gain experiences that contribute to positive lifestyles and enhance their capacity to make healthier choices in life.

“When communities experience trauma that stems from violence, incarceration, substance use disorders or food insecurity, the effect on children can be devastating,” said Dr. J. Nadine Gracia, deputy assistant secretary for Minority Health and director of the Office of Minority Health. “Memorial Hospital is an important partner in helping to bring together community-based organizations to develop innovative and collaborative approaches to provide support for children and their families who have been exposed to trauma.”

Memorial Hospital will develop the new program with several community partners, including the City of South Bend’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Recreation Center, Michiana Family YMCA, the University of Notre Dame, Oaklawn Psychiatric Center and the Salvation Army Kroc Center.

The Community Resilience Center will supplement the enriching afterschool activities provided at the YMCA and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center with activities that include mentoring, mental health services, weekly classes designed to build resilience and teach life skills, parenting classes and parent-child activities. Resilience building classes will focus on emotional management, problem solving, decision making, communication, conflict resolution and peer leadership.

The new program will promote the goals of My Brother’s Keeper, launched by President Obama in 2014 to ensure all young people can reach their full potential, including boys and young men of color. Memorial Hospital’s Community Health Enhancement division is the anchoring organization for My Brother’s Keeper in South Bend.

“I am very pleased for Memorial Hospital to be moving forward with this grant – the first of its kind in Indiana,” said Patty Willaert, director of Community Outreach at Community Health Enhancement. Memorial Hospital will receive about $398,800 per year toward the Community Resilience Center project.

The program initially will be available for children ages 7 to 12 who have been exposed to trauma. Witnessing a death, serious injury, neighborhood violence, experiencing poverty or being separated from a parent due to divorce, incarceration or other traumatic events, can result in emotional harm and even lead to long-term physical and mental health consequences.

“Adverse childhood experiences resulting in trauma tend to be cyclical due to the nature of the experiences and the absence of opportunities to build resilience,” said Dr. Margo DeMont, executive director of Community Health Enhancement. “This program will start the process of finding effective ways to interrupt the cycle of these experiences. I am eager to bring childhood trauma to the forefront of the conversation in our community.”

Beacon Health System is the nonprofit parent organization of Elkhart General Hospital and Memorial Hospital of South Bend and the largest, locally owned and operated health system in the region. Together, Elkhart General Hospital and Memorial Hospital of South Bend employ more than 6,000 team members and volunteers and are staffed by nearly 1,000 physicians.

For more information about the Communities Addressing Childhood Trauma initiative and grant, visit MinorityHealth.hhs.gov.

For more information about the new Community Resilience Center project, please contact Dory Lawrence, Community Health Enhancement, Memorial Hospital, at 574-647-6632 or gro.metsyshtlaehnocaeb@ecnerwald.