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Special to The Dallas Examiner


The University of North Texas at Dallas has been awarded a $150,000 grant by Texas Health Resources to study emerging and innovative approaches to health care developed during the COVID-19 pandemic. The research will focus specifically on community-based providers dedicated to reducing health inequities and saving lives.

The grant has been especially timely and relevant the three-year mark approaches since COVID-19 entered the U.S. in early 2020. Researchers will identify changes to care made necessary by the virus, the challenges it presented and the restrictions it prompted. The study will concentrate on communities in West and Southern Dallas.

The UNT Dallas School of Behavioral Health and Human Services and the UNT Dallas Department of Public Health will conduct the study. It will be called the Community Care Active Engagement Project.

Dr. Constance Lacy is the principal investigator and dean of the UNT Dallas School of Behavioral Health and Human Services; Dr. Samuel Bore is the co-principal investigator and chair of the Department of Counseling and Human Services.

“This project is an excellent opportunity to demonstrate how the mission of UNT Dallas to ‘strengthen communities’ aligns with Texas Health Resources’ community health improvement mission to document and invest in innovative health service delivery and reduce health inequities in the communities where the need to access health care is significant,” Lacy said.

When the project has concluded, the researchers will present findings to the Texas Health Community Impact Leadership Council. Texas Health has indicated its plans to invest in expanding emerging health care approaches to enhance services and treatment in underserved communities. The research will play a key role in Texas Health’s effort.

“Identifying emerging and innovative practices for underserved communities would reduce health care disparities and promote culturally sensitive and unbiased quality care,” Bore stated.

The UNT Dallas leadership expressed that it believed a necessary part of bridging the gap within underserved populations is providing health education and conducting formidable research that delivers results to help strengthen our communities.

“UNT Dallas excels at developing actionable solutions to the health hcare needs of the communities we serve. I salute Drs. Lacy and Bore and associates for their forward thinking and community mindedness,” said UNT Dallas President Bob Mong.”

The health care system’s response to the pandemic was unprecedented at all levels, and this crucial research aims to document emerging and innovative approaches implemented at the grassroots, community level to lessen health disparities, according to representatives of the university.

“The COVID-19 pandemic forced the health care industry to adapt quickly in the ways it delivered care and presents us a valuable opportunity from which to learn,” said Dr. Catherine Oliveros, DrPH, M.P.H., vice president of Community Health Improvement at Texas Health. “This project will allow us to delve deep into what worked and what didn’t in specific underserved communities so that we can use that insight to better focus our efforts in reducing health disparities and improving health. We believe UNT Dallas is the perfect choice to lead this important research.”

The university will partner with local health care providers who meet certain criteria, including delivery of services in one or more of these areas:

  • Preventive and Primary Care – including medical and dental check-ups and condition management.
  • Disease Prevention – vaccinations, anti-smoking programs, obesity screenings.
  • Patient Education – nutritional counseling, injury prevention, disease information.
  • Mental Health – screenings and counseling.

Health organizations participating in the research must offer treatment and services to community members facing health disparities and a sliding scale or reduced-cost or free service model. They must also serve people in a geographic area that includes these ZIP codes: 75211 and 75212 in West Dallas; 75217 and 75227 in Southern Dallas; 75231 and 75243 in Vickery Meadow; or 75032 in South Rockwall.

Steps of the study will include surveys filled out by the providers, interviews with individual staff members who were on the front lines during the pandemic and small focus groups. Those surveys need to be completed by March 1

The survey does not ask for any identifying client data, so there is no Health Insurance Portability and Accountability – known as HIPAA – violation.

Mollie Finch Belt is the Publisher and Chief Executive Officer of The Dallas Examiner. She attended elementary school in Tuskegee, Ala.; Cambridge, Mass.; and Dallas, Texas. In 1961, she graduated from...

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