Texas Health partners with Tarleton to strengthen Erath County citizens

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STEPHENVILLE (April 23, 2019) — Tarleton State University students, faculty and community partners have a new opportunity to bolster Erath County’s underserved population. The project, known as Texans Reducing Food Insecurities and Depression, will identify and offer resources to residents age 55 and over who face food insecurity and depression.

The $300,000 grant, awarded by Texas Health Resources’ Community Impact initiative, will support healthy food services and increasing access to mental health services.

“This grant is another important way that Texas Health Resources and Tarleton are partnering to improve health care in the community,” said Tarleton President F. Dominic Dottavio. “It is a partnership that underscores our core values of service, leadership and excellence, and provides our students with valuable, hands-on learning opportunities.”

Dr. Julie Merriman, associate dean of Tarleton’s College of Health Sciences and Human Services, explained that funds from Texas Health will be used to address the whole person: mind, body and soul. “In addition, we will create a sustainable resource database to bridge a gap in service utilization and accurately identify residents in need.”

Texas Health Community Impact is a data-driven, outcome-focused approach that calls on grant recipients to collaborate across sectors to attack identified issues. This year the program is awarding $5.2 million to 12 collaborations in five in North Texas regions.

“This is our opportunity to play a role in upstream issues that impact health and well-being,” said Catherine Oliveros, Texas Health’s vice president of community health improvement. “Siloed efforts have limited success. If we are really going to transform health and health care, we must transform systems and communities.”

The initiative pinpoints specific ZIP codes with the best opportunities to effect change. In Erath County, the project will focus on individuals in 76401 and 76402.

“Texas Health Community Impact is one of Texas Health’s commitments to live our nonprofit, faith-based health system’s mission: To improve the health of the people in the communities we serve,” said the system’s CEO, Barclay Berdan. “It’s said that a person’s ZIP code has a greater impact on their health than their genetic code. That’s why we’re reaching out into the communities we serve and hoping to make a real difference in the health and well-being of people in these areas of North Texas.”

Leadership councils found that mental health issues came up again and again during community focus groups and needs assessments.

They layered in data from community readiness surveys and performed windshield assessments, visiting the areas where individuals lacked access to healthy food and were isolated, which can lead to depression and physical problems. Living in food deserts (areas that lack healthy food options) can lead to chronic ailments such as diabetes and heart disease, which can diminish the well-being of entire neighborhoods.

“Through the fabric of collaboration, the Texans Reducing Food Insecurity and Depression program will strengthen the social and spiritual support network in Erath County and bring hope and healing to hurting people,” said the Rev. Kory Koch, vice chair of the Southern Leadership Council and representative for Erath County. “In the process, I believe this program will transform our whole community by providing a conduit of relationship-building for the recipients of services, students, caregivers and congregations.”

In addition to Tarleton State University, the project is partnering with:
• Meals on Wheels of Erath County
• AgriLife of Erath County
• Faith Communities (First Baptist Church and Graham Street Church of Christ)
• Community Services (community gardens, Hope Clinic and Grace Place)
• The Senior Center and senior living facilities (Stephenville Crossing and Bunker Hill)
• Cowboy Capital Mental Health Connection
• Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Stephenville.

Programs through these partners will include the development of community gardens, cooking classes, in-home therapy, caregiver support workshops, mental health intervention and numerous referral resources.

“This multigenerational and multi-agency project is a marvelous opportunity for our students, residents and the future of our community,” Merriman said. “This will be a beautiful thing for Erath County, making a difference in hundreds of lives, and our desire is to keep the momentum going.”

About Tarleton State University
Tarleton, founding member of The Texas A&M University System, provides a student-focused, value-driven education marked by academic innovation and a dedication to transform today’s scholars into tomorrow’s leaders. It offers degree programs to more than 13,000 students at Stephenville, Fort Worth, Waco, Midlothian, RELLIS Academic Alliance in Bryan, and online, emphasizing real-world learning experiences that address societal needs while maintaining its core values of tradition, integrity, civility, excellence, leadership and service.

About Texas Health Resources
Texas Health Resources is one of the largest faith-based, nonprofit health systems in the United States. The health system, which along with UT Southwestern founded Southwestern Health Resources in 2016 to make it easier for North Texans to access the highest quality care consistently in a responsive and coordinated manner, includes 29 hospital locations that are owned, operated, joint ventured or affiliated with Texas Health. It includes Texas Health Presbyterian Dallas, Texas Health Arlington Memorial, Texas Health Harris Methodist and Texas Health Huguley Hospitals, Texas Health Physicians Group, outpatient facilities, behavioral health and home health, preventive and fitness services, and an organization for medical research and education. For more information about Texas Health Resources, call 1-877-THR-WELL or visit www.TexasHealth.org.


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