JSU, Vicksburg and Jackson-Hinds secure $3M grant to combat COVID-19

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JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – Jackson State University, the City of Vicksburg and Jackson-Hinds Comprehensive Health Center have collaborated to secure a $3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health.

According to leaders, the funds are part of a new, two-year initiative designed to advance health literacy and enhance equitable community responses to COVID-19 while identifying and implementing best practices for improving health literacy in Vicksburg.

“I think it is important for institutions of higher education to be at the forefront of educating communities on health-related issues so they can make informed decisions that will enhance their quality of life and, in instances, extend their life, especially in the wake of COVID-19,” said Thomas K. Hudson, president of JSU. “This initiative is a significant step toward the elimination of health disparities caused by longstanding systemic and structural inequities.” 

The three teams will implement a health literacy intervention program specifically targeting Vicksburg’s diverse community, which will most likely encounter challenges with health literacy, healthcare experiences, and engaging with public health messages promoting COVID-19 prevention. 

Many of the project’s activities will be implemented at Jackson-Hinds, the largest community health center in Central Mississippi.

“The city of Vicksburg is proud to collaborate with Jackson-Hinds Comprehensive Health Center, Jackson State University, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health for this unique opportunity to benefit our communities,” said George Flaggs Jr., mayor of Vicksburg. “By improving health literacy distribution, we’re essentially improving access to healthcare for groups of people who statistically need it most. I’m looking forward to the work ahead.”

The project also includes training Jackson-Hinds employees to implement health literacy strategies at all points of contact during healthcare experiences. Additionally, a plan to sustain health literacy strategies and adherence to COVID-19 policies and other future public health recommendations will be designed. 

On Wednesday, Flaggs announced Felicia Whittington Kent will serve as Project Director of the grant.

“Felicia comes highly recommended from Jackson-Hinds Comprehensive Health Center and is enormously qualified in her field,” he said. “Her extensive experience with grants includes managing over $60 million in federal, state, and private grant funds. We’re excited about this unique opportunity that will undoubtedly benefit our entire community, and we proudly welcome Felicia to the team.”

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