Wood Foundation pledges $1M for regional health initiatives

Charlene Wood, daughter of the late Charles R. Wood, speaks at the grand opening ceremony of Charles R. Wood Park on May 29 in Lake George. The Charles R. Wood Foundation, of which Charlene Wood is chairwoman, has pledged $1 million toward area health-based initiatives. (Enterprise photo — The Post-Star)

GLENS FALLS — The Charles R. Wood Foundation is trying to find new ways to improve the community’s health.

The foundation announced Friday that it will give out $1 million to support community-based health initiatives over the next three years.

It is a major new initiative. Board members said it was clear the region needs better health care.

“We see prevalence of chronic illness in an aging population, health worker shortages, uncontrolled but preventable illnesses and geographic access issues,” said Foundation Chairwoman Charlene Wood. “The problems and needs are well documented.”

Every year, the foundation receives more than 150 applications for support, with initiatives involving the arts, children and health services. The foundation gave out $1.5 million in grants last year.

Now, health service applications will get their own fund.

Only organizations serving Warren, Washington, Essex, Clinton, Franklin, Fulton, Hamilton or Montgomery counties will be considered. Applicants are encouraged to collaborate to improve residents’ health and reduce health costs. The foundation wants “innovative efforts” that address barriers to health care.

“We seek better health care, improved population health and more efficiency in health care delivery,” Wood said.

As an example, Wood noted that the foundation recently approved a $100,000 application to develop telemedicine. Patients use video-conferencing on their phone or computer to get prescriptions, referrals and other treatment from doctors.

The Adirondack Health Institute will use the grant to develop a Telehealth Technical Assistance Center. It will expand telehealth in nine North Country counties, with the goal of improving care, supporting patients after discharge from a hospital and serving aging residents who cannot easily travel.

It has “huge potential” for rural residents, said Project Manager Katy Cook.

“Telehealth has caught the attention of many in the health care field in recent years, but has yet to reach its full potential,” said Cook. “This endeavor has the chance to impact thousands of North Country residents by improving access to the care they otherwise would not seek due to travel, work and family constraints.”

The next deadline for grant applications is Sept. 1. To apply, go to www.charleswoodfoundation.com.

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