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Emory School of Nursing receives award to advance health equity through nursing
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Melanie Kieve
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Fayron Epps

One of 16 recipients nationwide of AARP, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Equity Innovations Fund Awards

An Emory University Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing program promoting dementia care for African American families through faith-based partnerships is among 16 organizations to receive a Health Equity Innovation Fund award.

The awards from the AARP Center for Health Equity through NursingSM and the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action, an initiative of AARP Foundation, AARP, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, are for projects offering promising solutions aimed at eliminating structural inequities, particularly structural racism, within the nursing profession, health systems or community, and for projects that help improve access to care and services for those most disproportionately impacted by health disparities. The 16 projects will share over $700,000 in awards.

The Emory project supports the expansion of the School of Nursing’s Alter program, which partners with faith communities in under-resourced African American communities in Georgia to promote dementia awareness, educate on the high incidence of dementia among African Americans, reduce the stigma of dementia, and advise on finding trusted medical resources. School of Nursing assistant professor Fayron Epps, PhD, RN, FGSA, FAAN, is the principal investigator on the grant, which is carried out in partnership with the Georgia Nursing Leadership Coalition.

“This project is responding to an urgent need to address dementia in the African American community,” Epps says. “Our team is striving to improve the health of communities by mitigating structural racism and inequities that have led to significant health disparities within the African American community. The uptake from faith leaders has forged dementia-friendly supportive relationships and convoys of care, allowing families to not feel that they are facing dementia alone.”

The 16 winning projects are from California, the District of Columbia, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Tennessee, Utah, Wisconsin and West Virginia.

“This is our first time offering this award, and we received an impressive number of applications addressing a range of issues and potential solutions,” said Susan C. Reinhard, PhD, RN, FAAN, senior vice president and director of the AARP Public Policy Institute, and chief strategist of the Center to Champion Nursing in America and Family Caregiving Initiatives. “It’s clear to me that nursing recognizes its role and is committed to advancing health equity. It’s an exciting time for our profession, and for the Campaign and the AARP Center for Health Equity through Nursing. We have work to do, and we are all in.” 

“Longer, healthier lives are not just the result of individuals making healthy choices,” said Jean Accius, PhD, senior vice president for AARP Global Thought Leadership. “Good health and longevity are simply not available to everyone in this country. There are structural barriers and biases in the health care system and how it’s funded. I am very proud of AARP’s commitment to supporting nurses in the fight against health disparities.”

“Nurses are everywhere in our communities – from the bedside to our schools and in board rooms,” said Beth Toner, RN, MSN, MJ, and senior communications officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “They see firsthand the impact of the structural injustices baked into the systems that impact health. At RWJF, we understand that their expertise and innovation are absolutely essential to dismantling structural racism within our health systems and beyond. And for the same reasons, we are helping to fund these awards. The innovation, passion and commitment we see in all these grantees are exactly what I expect from nurses.”

The awards will be administered by the Center to Champion Nursing in America and the AARP Center for Health Equity through Nursing. The Center to Champion Nursing in America is an initiative of the AARP Foundation, AARP and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and it runs the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action, an initiative of the same organizations building a healthier America through nursing. The AARP Center for Health Equity through Nursing serves as a vehicle for change and a national resource for advancing health equity.

About the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing  

Ranked No. 2 in BSN and master’s degree programs and No. 6 in Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) programs by U.S. News & World Report, the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing produces nurse leaders who are transforming health care through science, education, practice and policy. The school is also among the top five nursing schools in the U.S. for funding from the National Institutes of Health. For more information, visit Follow the School of Nursing on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.

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