The Program for Pet Health Equity (PPHE) in the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s College of Social Work announced a grant award of $3.4 million from Maddie’s Fund, a national family foundation established by Dave and Cheryl Duffield to revolutionize the status and well-being of companion animals. The program exists to improve access to veterinary care for pets and their families not adequately served by the current system. AlignCare is the nation’s first One Health health care system addressing the needs of people, their pets, and their ecosystem.
“Thanks to Maddie, the PPHE will be able to continue the groundbreaking work of AlignCare,” said Michael Blackwell, program director and founder of PPHE and AlignCare. “Following the development and testing of AlignCare, these funds will now help ensure further improvements and implementation of community ownership to achieve the sustainability a health care system requires.”
Blackwell said by taking a One Health approach, AlignCare brings into line existing resources and activities in a community to ensure a focus on the whole family which includes nonhuman family members struggling to access veterinary care due to low socioeconomics.
“Collaboration amongst social service and public health agencies, veterinary practices, veterinary social workers, and funders is key to ensure families receive the care they need.”
Established in 2018, AlignCare connects families with veterinary service providers while aligning other community resources and activities to assist the entire family. AlignCare is currently implemented in Knoxville and seven other pilot communities: Phoenix, Arizona; Asheville and Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina; Buffalo, New York; Las Vegas and Reno, Nevada; and Spokane, Washington. It is in progress in four additional communities.
“Dr. Blackwell and his AlignCare team have created an amazing foundation in order to help keep people and pets together,” said Amy Zeifang of the Maddie’s Fund executive leadership team. “AlignCare’s mission to improve access to veterinary care, especially for those with limited means, is profoundly meaningful for families throughout our country.”
Maddie’s Fund is a family foundation established in 1994 by Dave and Cheryl Duffield and is the fulfillment of a promise to their inspirational dog, Maddie. She provided them much joy from 1987 to 1997 and continues to inspire them today. The foundation has awarded over $255 million in grants toward increased community lifesaving, pioneering shelter medicine education, and establishing foster care as a standard across the US. Maddie’s Fund proudly offers the industry a national voice, important funding opportunities for bold ideas, learning resources, and access to collaborate and share innovative solutions. The foundation invests its resources in a commitment to keeping pets and people together, creating a safety net of care for animals in need, and operating within a culture of inclusiveness and humility.