UTEP Receives $200,000 Grant to Expand Health Services and Education to Homeless Population
Last Updated on March 02, 2022 at 12:00 AM
Originally published March 02, 2022
By Laura L. Acosta
UTEP Marketing and Communications
The University of Texas at El Paso, under the leadership of Eva M. Moya, Ph.D., associate professor of social work, and Guillermina Solis, Ph.D., assistant professor of nursing, received a $200,000 grant from humanitarian charity Direct Relief to expand the H.O.P.E. health fairs and education services to unsheltered and uninsured people in El Paso County.
Since 2016, UTEP’s College of Health Sciences and the schools of Nursing and Pharmacy have collaborated with dozens of community partners to organize the H.O.P.E. (Health, Opportunity, Prevention, Education) health fairs at the Opportunity Center for the Homeless in Central El Paso. Staffed by UTEP social work and health professions students and faculty, the clinics provide health screenings, referrals, vaccinations, disease prevention and education to hundreds of individuals experiencing homelessness each year.
Starting in April 2022, services will be bolstered by the School of Nursing mobile unit. The mobile services will make it possible for UTEP, the Opportunity Center and other community partners to bring resources into underserved El Paso communities in San Elizario, Northeast El Paso and the Segundo Barrio in Central El Paso.
According to Moya, interim chair of UTEP’s Department of Social Work, the new H.O.P.E.+ initiative, which now stands for “Homefree. Outreach. Prevention. Education. Plus,” is expected to serve 600 adults in need throughout 2022.
“This grant is the result of a remarkable partnership between UTEP’s faculty and students from health sciences, nursing and pharmacy and our community partners that, for the past five years, have been helping to serve communities at the margins of society,” Moya said. “With the support of Direct Relief and in concert with the Opportunity Center for the Homeless, Centro San Vicente, Familias Triunfadoras and Clinica La Fe, we will expand, reach out and serve members of the homeless community and connect them with mental health and primary care services.”
Funds also will be used to employ a program manager, graduate research assistant and community health workers or peer advocates who will assist with outreach and referral services. The grant will help to secure supplies for eight community health fairs, including participant incentives and personal protection equipment.
In addition to the funds, the health fairs will continue to provide UTEP students and faculty with valuable opportunities to learn and practice community engagement, utilize critical thinking, teamwork, communication, problem solving and leadership skills to carry out social responsibility, Moya said.
Solis, director of the UTEP Family Nurse Practitioner program, said the grant is the first step toward expanding the H.O.P.E clinics regionally and gaining additional financial support from other funding sources.
“This grant opportunity will help to validate the collaborative work between UTEP and our community partners and will assist us in creating a model that can be used in other communities in the U.S. to promote health services in underserved areas,” Solis said.
UTEP is among 49 awardees to receive a grant from Direct Relief’s Fund for Health Equity. The fund mobilizes financial resources for organizations focused on non-clinical interventions that affect a person's health. Commonly known as the social determinants of health, these factors include an individual’s physical, social, political, cultural and economic environment.