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Donation boosts CHHS local health outreach

The UNC Charlotte College of Health and Human Services is elevating ongoing efforts to address health disparities in the area following a $44,000 donation from Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina. The donation will fund an on-site graduate assistant, health risk screenings and exercise programming at a north Charlotte community center that serves low-income Hispanic clients.

The clients at the Bethesda Health Center, housed in the Camino Community Center in Charlotte, are almost exclusively Latino or Hispanic; 35 percent of those that take advantage of the free clinic have diabetes. Bethesda is a free clinic serving low-income, uninsured people in Mecklenburg County. The nonprofit provides adult primary care, diabetes and hypertension management and health education programs. Bethesda has served more than 3,500 patients and provided health fairs as well as more than 8,500 doctor visits since it opened its doors in 2004.

“We're really listening to what the community needs are, what they're most passionate about, worried about and pairing that perfectly with what we can do to help,” said Nancy Fey-Yensan, dean of the College of Health and Human Services.

UNC Charlotte receives $7.7 million federal grant

In urban environments such as Charlotte, multiple options are needed to move people and goods. To do so with maximum efficiency that relieves congestion and improves the quality of life for city dwellers will require innovative research, which is the aim of the Center for Advanced Multimodal Mobility Solutions and Education (CAMMSE) at UNC Charlotte.

Using a $7.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation, UNC Charlotte will be the lead university for this novel multi-institutional center that includes Texas Southern University, the University of Connecticut, the University of Texas at Austin and Washington State University.

Wei Fan, associate professor in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department within UNC Charlotte’s William States Lee College of Engineering, is the principal investigator for the center; the federal funding is for five years.

“There is much compelling evidence that multimodal transportation plays a key role in the sustainability and efficiency of a transportation system,” Fan said. “Multimodal transportation is important in attracting people to urban areas, creating communities that are resilient and robust and improving the overall quality of life.”

Multimodal transportation refers to the integrated network of roads, airports, seaports, rails, transit systems, bicycle and pedestrian trails and walkways. CAMMSE researchers will apply the multimodal term to the movement of people and goods, with the aim of developing innovations to relieve congestion and improve efficiency for both.

Investigators will work in collaboration with the Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) and the N.C. Department of Transportation (NCDOT). “At UNC Charlotte, we have expert faculty and great resources to help the community,” Fan said. “This center will be very important to the Charlotte area, the great state of North Carolina and the entire Southeast region. We will use our research expertise to solve real-world problems for CATS and NCDOT.”

Other co-investigators from UNC Charlotte who will be involved in CAMMSE include Marty Kane, Miguel Pando and Dave Weggel, faculty members in the Lee College Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Yu Wang from the College of Computing and Informatics Computer Science Department.

UNC Charlotte’s grant is one of 32 awarded by the U.S. Department of Transportation to develop research centers related to transportation.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, in announcing the total nationwide awards of approximately $72.5 million for fiscal year 2016, said, “Our nation faces unprecedented challenges from population growth, a changing climate and increasing freight volumes. Universities are at the forefront of identifying solutions, researching critical emerging issues and ensuring improved access to opportunity for all Americans.”