From covered bus shelters for the new Haywood Transit routes to addiction counseling, the latest round of grant funding from the Haywood Healthcare Foundation will touch the lives of thousands across the county.

“The Foundation is excited to support a diverse group of organizations that are working to meet the needs of the community,” said Anthony Sutton, chair of the Haywood Healthcare Foundation board. “Everyone in the community will see the impact of these grants. We are working with groups that are meeting people where they are and providing needed services that otherwise would not be achieved.”

The Haywood Healthcare Foundation gives out grants twice a year for health and wellness initiatives. The funding largely comes from proceeds from the sale of Haywood Regional Medical Center to Duke LifePoint several years ago, coupled with private donations.

The $18 million netted by the hospital sale is held in trust, with the annual interest allocated by the nonprofit Haywood Healthcare Foundation for projects and programs that benefit community well-being.

Along with its regular grant cycle, the Healthcare Foundation announced earlier this year it would contribute $5 million toward the construction of a health building at Haywood Community College to expand its nursing program and other health related fields.

The 11 recipients from the latest round of grant funding appeared at the foundation’s board meeting this week to share brief overviews of how the funds will be put to work. Below are snapshots of some of the grants given out this round.

Covered bus stops

A grant will fund two shelters along a new bus route operated by Haywood Transit. The new bus routes — one covering Canton and one covering Waynesville — are going well, logging a ridership of 900 passengers since the launch date 10 weeks ago.

Stops along the routes are still being massaged to best fit the needs of riders, and part of that process will be picking where the two shelters at put up.

“There are natural shelters at several stops under the awnings of buildings, but most stops require passengers to stand out in the elements while they are waiting on a bus,” said Si Simmons, director of Haywood Transit. “We will be working to identify some of our hotspots for the covered shelters.”

Helping oncology patients

An ongoing initiative will provide $50 gas cards for cancer patients to help offset the cost of getting to appointments.

“It is a big need that hits them immediately with the amount of trips they need to make to and from their providers,” said Beth Campell, with the Nurse Navigator Program at Haywood Regional Medical Center.

The gas cards are a small token, but aim to ease the financial burden during a stressful time.

Medical equipment

Two grants will fund medical equipment to better serve the public: one to equip Haywood EMS ambulances with portable ventilators and infusion pumps and one for an EKG machine at Blue Ridge Health.

The infusion pumps will allow EMS workers to deliver IV feeds to patients more accurately.

“This was a request to enhance our capabilities. It gives the patient exactly what they need in terms of the exact dose,” said Haywood County Emergency Services Director Greg Shuping.

Likewise, the portable ventilators will deliver oxygen into a patient’s airway with an automated system, rather than EMS workers pumping air manually.

“When we can assign some sort of device to deliver oxygen and air rather than manually it is better for the patient,” Shuping said. “It is more of a science because we can dial in exactly the appropriate amount of air for the patient’s circumstances.”

The funding is enough to outfit half the EMS ambulances with the two pieces of equipment.

The EKG equipment purchase will benefit patients of Blue Ridge Health, which provides clinic-style care with a focus on those with limited financial means.

“We provide universal access to care regardless of a patient’s ability to pay or insurance status,” said Lee Homan with Blue Ridge Health. “We try to be a one-stop shop.”

Homan said he appreciated HHF’s ongoing support.

Healthy eating

Disabled adults living in group homes will be eating healthier thanks to a grant awarded to the ARC of Haywood County.

Obesity is a national problem and can be even more of a challenge for adults with physical and mental disabilities. The grant will provide training for group home caretakers on healthy meal preparation.

“One of the components we are missing is to teach the staff how to cook for the individuals who live in the homes,” said Steve Brown, director of ARC.

Another grant will support the First Fruits Ministry of Long’s Chapel. Volunteers with the outreach program provide 700 healthy snacks a week on Friday afternoons to Tuscola and Pisgah high school students as they leave campus.

Kids at play

The Healthcare Foundation will continue its support for Waynesville Basecamp for a second year. The ongoing grant partially funds the salary of a youth recreation coordinator aimed at making kids more active.

While Basecamp is operated by Waynesville Parks and Rec, it serves kids across the county — from its signature outdoor summer day camp to a new winter day camp on school snow days and a mobile outreach program called Basecamp on the Go. This year’s grant funding will also pay for a giant inflatable obstacle course to take on the road.

“It’s targeted at getting families involved in learning what play is all about,” said Tim Petrea with Waynesville Basecamp. “You are giving us the opportunity to grow our program and do more outreach.”

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