$13.6 million and counting

CHI grant recipients 2024

After 28 years, Huntsville Hospital’s Community Health Initiative (CHI) keeps finding new ways to improve lives across Madison County.

During a June 18 ceremony at the Dowdle Center, CHI awarded $600,000 in grant funding to help 10 local not-for-profit agencies continue their important work of caring for underserved populations including homeless and uninsured adults, children in foster care, and people with Autism Spectrum Disorder. 

Going back to its founding in 1996, CHI has now provided $13.6 million in financial support to 53 different agencies that share Huntsville Hospital’s mission of helping those in need.

The 2024-25 grant recipients include well-known organizations like the Community Free Clinic, Arc of Madison County, HEALS Inc., United Cerebral Palsy and Kids to Love, along with some less-familiar names.

Clinica Medica Moscati, which provides low-cost medical care for Huntsville’s Hispanic community, is a first-time grant winner. Mayra Short, who founded the clinic three years ago with her husband, Dr. Thomas D. Short, said the $50,000 from CHI will help the “small and humble” nonprofit serve even more patients.

“We don’t have all the bells and whistles,” Short said, “but we get the job done.”CHI Clinica Medica Moscati web

The Lowe Avenue clinic treated more than 3,000 patients last year while operating on a shoestring budget. It is named for Italian physician Giuseppe Moscati, the first modern doctor to be declared a saint by the Catholic Church.

Patients can see a Spanish-speaking nurse practitioner, Nayeli Abiles Hernandez, for general medical care. The clinic also has a small team of volunteer physician specialists including Dr. Short, a gastroenterologist; Dr. Vasudha Reddy from Huntsville Hospital’s Endocrinology & Diabetes Clinic; a rheumatologist and a urologist.

When a patient needs specialty care that’s not available on site, Mayra Short said she “negotiates and advocates” for the patient with Huntsville Hospital and other area providers.

Thanks to those conversations, Clinica Medica Moscati patients now can see a wide range of HH physician specialists (neurology, neurosurgery, cardiology, orthopedic surgery, obstetrics-gynecology and pulmonology) at a reduced cost.

“Uninsured patients have difficulty accessing specialized care,” Short said. “We don’t ask for free care but we ask for affordable care, and that has been a game changer.”

Despite the clinic’s efforts, uncontrolled diabetes remains a rampant problem in the local Hispanic community. Many work in construction, landscaping and housekeeping jobs that don’t offer health insurance, so they avoid going to the doctor until they have a full-blown health crisis.

Short knows a woman in her early 40s who did not seek treatment for her diabetes until she was blind in one eye and partially blind in the other; she finally came to the clinic for help and is doing much better after getting an insulin pump.

The clinic plans to use its Community Health Initiative grant money to hire a full-time clinic assistant and part-time case worker. That will free up Short to spend more time on medical outreach to Hispanic communities outside of Huntsville, including a large Guatemalan population in Jackson County.

“The clinic is almost like a ministry,” she said. “These are very good, hard working people, and it’s our honor to serve them.”

This year’s Huntsville Hospital Community Health Initiative grant recipients are:

  • Arc of Madison County, $95,000 to facilitate a home visitation program for clients with Autism Spectrum Disorder;

  • Clinica Medica Moscati, $50,000 to expand medical care to uninsured individuals in Huntsville, with special emphasis on the Hispanic community;

  • Community Free Clinic, $100,000 to continue providing medical care to uninsured residents of Madison County;

  • Community Free Dental Clinic, $50,000 to continue providing free dental care to low income, uninsured adults in Madison County;

  • HEALS Inc., $25,000 to provide medical, optometry and dental care to underserved children at Huntsville schools;

  • Kids to Love, $85,000 to provide mental health services for children in the foster care system;

  • New Hope Children’s Clinic, $25,000 to provide access to affordable, comprehensive health care for children in southeast Madison County;

  • Parkinson’s Dynamics, $85,000 to support the Rock Steady Boxing program, which offers exercise, education, wellness and support to people with Parkinson’s disease and their families.

  • United Cerebral Palsy, $35,000 to expand mental health counseling and support to individuals with disabilities, their siblings and other immediate family members;

  • Village of Promise, $50,000 to provide health care services and mental health support to Village of Promise scholars.