CUIMC Initiative Receives Federal Community Project Funding

check presentation

Holding a symbolic check, from left, are Blair Simpson, Katrina Armstrong, Adriano Espaillat, and Milton Wainberg. Photo: Rudy Diaz, CUIMC

U.S. Rep. Adriano Espaillat of New York’s 13th Congressional district visited CUIMC last week to present federal funding he secured for the Columbia COVID-19 Northern Manhattan Community Mental Wellness Corps, a new initiative to address mental health disparities in Northern Manhattan and parts of the Bronx.

The initiative is led by Milton Wainberg, MD, professor of clinical psychiatry at the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and the New York State Psychiatric Institute. The COVID-19 pandemic caused higher rates of mental disorders that have worsened gaps in mental health services for vulnerable communities served by CUIMC. The Columbia COVID-19 Northern Manhattan Community Mental Wellness Corps—CmwC—will increase access to timely, effective, culturally relevant mental health care.

U.S. Rep. Adriano Espaillat

U.S. Rep. Adriano Espaillat, who represents the district that includes Columbia University Irving Medical Center, visited the New York State Psychiatric Institute to present funding for a community mental health initiative. Photo: Rudy Diaz, CUIMC

The funding was accepted by Wainberg; Blair Simpson, MD, PhD, interim chair of psychiatry at the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons; and Katrina Armstrong, MD, chief executive officer of CUIMC and dean of the Faculties of Health Sciences and the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons.

“Informed by our work in Harlem, Washington Heights, Inwood, and low-resource settings in the U.S. and abroad, CmwC will provide training and increase access to mental health services by partnering with churches and trusted community-based organizations,” says Wainberg. He expects CmwC to create model of community-based mental health service delivery that can be replicated in other distressed communities in the United States.

The $750,000 in federal funding was included in an omnibus appropriations agreement for FY2022 passed by Congress. Community Project Funding is set aside for specific projects proposed by non-federal or non-government entities. Funding requests are submitted by members of Congress for projects in their districts.

The one-year grant to CmwC was one of several projects totaling $11.5 million that Espaillat successfully submitted for funding. The government funding package also supports projects in Inwood, Harlem, East Harlem, and the Bronx.

“These investments support underserved areas and foster economic development, making a real difference in the lives of many throughout our community,” says Espaillat. “I am proud to have fought for funding that will make our community healthier, safer, stronger, and even more resilient.”

“CUIMC appreciates the funding Rep. Espaillat secured for this important program led by Dr. Wainberg,” says Armstrong. “Even though the money has been presented to Columbia, it is the community that will benefit. We are grateful for Rep. Espaillat’s advocacy for our work that shows such promise for helping our neighbors.”