Grants help farmers market, rides for elderly, campus drug counseling

Louann Villani, center, executive director of the Saranac Lake Population Health Network for the Adirondack Health Institute, presents a grant check to Lee Rivers, right, executive director of Community Connections of Franklin County, and Richard Lavigne, food services director for the Joint Council for Economic Opportunity of Clinton and Franklin Counties Inc. (Provided photo — Adirondack Health Institute)

SARANAC LAKE — The Adirondack Health Institute’s Performing Provider System has awarded more than $376,000 to organizations in the Saranac Lake area for three community health care projects.

The first local project to receive funding is the Mobile Farmers Market in Franklin County. Two greenhouses will be constructed to grow fresh produce and extend the market’s growing season. A full-time mobile market manager and part-time mobile market assistant will also be hired to expand the market.

“With two new greenhouses, we can increase our growing season from three to nine months of the year and extend the market’s schedule from 10 to 14 weeks,” Lee Rivers, executive director of Community Connections of Franklin County, said in a press release. “With that four-week increase, coupled with a dedicated manager and assistant, we’ll be able to grow the presence of the market and serve another 800 people.”

The second program is Rides to Healthier Options. In partnership with 10 organizations like Community Connections of Franklin County and the Franklin County Office for the Aging, transportation services will be expanded. Organizations will disseminate bus tickets and gas cards, offer assistance with minor vehicle repairs, and ride assistance from taxicab companies and other providers for non-medical needs.

The last project is called “Meeting the Substance Use Disorder Needs of Our Regional Citizens: A New In-Community Approach.” St. Joseph’s Addiction and Treatment Centers counselors will be at Community Connections and North Country Community College to provide services and referrals for those with substance use disorders.

AHI PPS innovation funding is distributed through the state Department of Health’s Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment program, which aims to restructure the Medicaid system by funding community-based health care projects.

In past rounds of funding, AHI has administered funds to Adirondack Health for chronic disease coaches, patient navigators and a heart failure education plan.

For more information on the Mobile Farmer’s Market and Rides to Healthier Options, email Rivers at lrivers@communityconnectionsfcny.org. For more information on the substance abuse program, email St. Joseph’s Community Services Director Robin Gay at rgay@stjoestreatment.org.