FRAMINGHAM – The MetroWest Health Foundation in Framingham announced two recipients of the Edna Smith Health Equity Award at its annual meeting held virtually this week.
The Edna Smith Health Equity Award is named for the foundation’s founding trustee Edna Smith who led the foundation’s focus on advancing health equity as a key strategy to truly impact community health.
The award went to Edward M. Kennedy Community Health center Vice President Paula Kaionow and to the “leadership and staff of the Framingham Health Department.”
Kaminow, of Ashland, is Vice President for Operations at the Edward M. Kennedy Community Health Center in Framingham.
Since 2004, she has brought a deep passion and commitment to serving those in the region whose needs are often overlooked. Her leadership at the Kennedy Center has focused on ensuring that the patient is at the center of all their work. She has been committed to ensuring that those who walk through the doors not only receive the best care possible but are true partners in their care.
She helped introduce “Teach Back,” which is a way for clinicians to ensure that patients understand their condition, treatment choices and follow-up instructions. She has created a culture at the health center where patients’ cultural and religious beliefs, as well as their concerns are heard and respected. She has also been a community leader in promoting health equity as the key to improving public health in the region.
The leadership and staff of the Framingham Health Department are recognized for their collective efforts to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and to address the racial and ethnic disparities that the pandemic has so vividly spotlighted, said the Foundation.
The department’s leadership recognized early on that low-income people of color were being disproportionally impacted by COVID 19, said the Foundation.
This recognition allowed them to mobilize a host of community resources to educate, test, trace, vaccinate and support those most affected by this pandemic, said the Foundation.
The Department stood up testing sites in low-income neighborhoods, mobilized a food hotline to help those struggling to find food, and provided outreach to neighborhoods where housing density and financial circumstances threatened community spread of the virus, said the Foundation.
During the pandemic, more than 7,300 residents, or about one out of every 10 residents in the City of Framingham were diagnosed with COVID-19.
The MetroWest Health Foundation is a catalyst for a healthy MetroWest, providing more than $5 million in annual financial support for preventative and responsive health programs that have a positive impact on the health of the 25 communities in the MetroWest area of Massachusetts. To date, the foundation has provided more than $70 million in financial support that helps residents and their families lead healthier lives. The Foundation is based in Framingham.