HHS awards $15 million for Flint, Michigan families affected by lead exposure

Funds earmarked for helping residents experiencing health issues linked to local water supply.
By Bernie Monegain
12:05 PM
Flint Michigan water

The Department of Health and Human Services has earmarked $15 million in funding for Michigan’s Genesee County Healthy Start Program to provide health and social services for women, infants, and their families who have had or are at risk for, lead exposure in Flint, Michigan, and the surrounding area.

“The Trump Administration is taking important steps to support the residents of Flint, Michigan, as the need for vital resources remains critical to the health of their community,” Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, MD. “We understand the urgency of the situation, and this funding will help connect affected and at-risk Flint residents to comprehensive health and social services proven to mitigate the effects of lead exposure.” 

[Also: Report: Crises at Flint, Hollywood Presbyterian show importance of electronic health records]

The Flint water crisis began in 2014 when the drinking water source for the city was changed to the Flint River and not sufficiently treated, leaving more than 100,000 residents exposed to high levels of lead in their drinking water. 

The HHS funding is authorized under the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act and the Public Health Service Act. It is earmarked for helping residents who are experiencing health issues linked to exposure to the local water supply.

Lead exposure can cause miscarriage, developmental delays in infants, and other medical issues. Because lead can stay in the bones for decades, women and infants may continue to be exposed through pregnancy and breastfeeding even after the source is removed.

The HHS earmarked contribution will help, especially since Michigan has racked up $14 million in legal fees – money some Flint leaders suggest would be better spent on ensuring the water is safe and providing help for the people affected by the crisis.

The Genesee County Healthy Start Program will use this new grant from HHS in partnership with other community organizations to expand access to services available to minimize the health effects of lead exposure among pregnant women, infants and young children in Flint and the surrounding Genesee County area. 

The Genesee County Healthy Start Program will identify children who were exposed to lead from the contaminated water to assess their needs; facilitate access to recommended services, and minimize developmental delays. It will also coordinate access to appropriate medical, behavioral, and developmental screening, services, and supports for impacted women, children, and their families.

Twitter: @Bernie_HITN
Email the writer: bernie.monegain@himssmedia.com

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