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Vinfen Partners with MGH to Study how to Prevent COVID-19 Illness in Group Homes

Vinfen is pleased to announce that it is partnering with the Mongan Institute at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) on a $4.9 million, two-year research project to develop best practices to prevent COVID-19 illness and spread in staff and people with serious mental illness and intellectual/developmental disabilities in group homes. The project is funded by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) and will include five other Massachusetts, community-based human service providers that encompass 400 group homes with 2,000 residents and 3,000 staff.

PCORI provides essential funds to studies that can help patients and those who care for them make better-informed healthcare choices. “This project was selected for PCORI funding not only for its scientific merit and commitment to engaging patients and other stakeholders, but also for its potential to fill an important gap in our health knowledge and give people information to help them weigh the effectiveness of their care options,” said PCORI Executive Director Nakela L. Cook, MD, MPH. “We look forward to following the study’s progress and working with the Mongan Institute at MGH to share the results.”

Along with Vinfen designated as the lead, five other behavioral health and developmental disability organizations will also participate in the study. This includes Bay Cove Human Services, Riverside Community Care, North Suffolk Mental Health Association, Advocates, and Open Sky Community Services. Vinfen will also convene work groups of families, residential counselors, and people living in group homes to ensure that a broad range of voices and perspectives provide input into all aspects of the study. In addition, the project will have an advocates advisory group that includes Mass Advocates Standing Strong, The Arc of Massachusetts, the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Association for Mental Health, and the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress. The Massachusetts Departments of Mental Health and Developmental Services will also participate on an advisory group.

The research team will be led by Stephen Bartels, MD, MS, who is the James J. and Jean H. Mongan Endowed Chair of Health Policy and Community Health, Professor of Medicine at MGH and Harvard Medical School, and the Director of the Mongan Institute. Brian Skotko, MD, MPP, the Emma Campbell Endowed Chair on Down Syndrome, Harvard Medical School Associate Professor, and Director of the Down Syndrome Program at MGH will serve as the co-principal investigator.

Vinfen Vice President of Integrated Care and Innovation Kim Shellenberger, MBA shared, “This project will bring federal funding and an all-star research team to work with Vinfen and other community providers to prevent COVID-19 illness in group homes. This is so important given the higher risk that people with serious mental illness and intellectual/developmental disabilities face because of medical vulnerability and congregate living.”

View the Mongan Institute at MGH press release here.