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Two Penn Nursing Professors Awarded Hillman Foundation Grants for Research Addressing the Health of Marginalized Populations

The Rita and Alex Hillman Foundation (RAHF) announced $1.5 million in grants to support bold new programs addressing the health of marginalized populations. Two of the grant recipients are from Penn Nursing’s Department of Family and Community Health: J. Margo Brooks Carthon, PhD, the Tyson Family Endowed Term Chair for Gerontological Research and Associate Professor of Nursing; and Sara Jacoby, PhD, the Calvin Bland Fellow and Assistant Professor of Nursing.

“Nursing must play a critical role in creating a more equitable and just healthcare system,” said Ahrin Mishan, RAHF Executive Director. “We believe nursing – especially in collaboration with other disciplines and through deep community engagement – is a powerful force for change.”

The Penn Nursing research projects that were awarded are:

Spurring the Development of a Promising Intervention to Help Chronically Ill Medicaid Patients After Hospitalization (Brooks Carthon, Principal Investigator)

THRIVE is a novel, equity-centered approach that provides whole-person care to Medicaid patients transitioning from hospital to home. Developed by a nurse-led interdisciplinary team at the University of Pennsylvania, results from an early pilot demonstrated a range of positive outcomes including reduced rehospitalizations. A $300,000 Hillman Catalyst Award will allow THRIVE, in partnership with Penn Medicine at Home and Pennsylvania Hospital, to expand to a second site and generate new evidence that could help to establish the intervention as a standard for delivering comprehensive transitional care to Medicaid patients and their families.

A Multifaceted Approach to Advancing Health Equity Through Housing Policy (Jacoby, Principal Investigator)

The link between housing and health is well established. Building on earlier work funded by a 2021 Hillman Catalyst Award, a multi-disciplinary research team – combining nurses and urban planners with officials from housing, public health, and environmental agencies – will harness big data and community knowledge to rethink, and potentially reshape, a key federal housing program. This visionary project from the University of Pennsylvania will utilize HIC funding to show how integrating health-affecting neighborhood characteristics into the distribution criteria of housing subsidy programs can contribute to better health for low-income families.

Representing the leading edge of nursing innovation, this year’s grant recipients leverage policy, technology, and community engagement to reduce structural inequities and improve care. Established in 2014, the Hillman Innovations in Care (HIC) program and Hillman Catalyst Awards were created to spur the development of innovations that could tackle the complex needs of communities that experience discrimination, oppression and indifference. These populations include Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), the economically disadvantaged, LGBTQ+ people, people experiencing homelessness, rural populations, refugees, and others.