The money will help fund AlignCare, a program through the College of Social Work that supports the health of people, their pets and their ecosystem.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The University of Tennessee’s College of Social Work in Knoxville is getting a $3.4 million grant to help them continue providing a kind of healthcare that takes a holistic approach towards supporting families.
The money will help fund the college’s AlignCare program, which addresses the needs of people, their pets and the ecosystems they’re in. According to a release from officials, it is the first One Health healthcare system in the U.S.
These kinds of healthcare systems focus on how the interconnection of people, animals, plants and their environment affects the health of everyone. UT’s specific program especially focuses on providing veterinary care for family pets.
They said around 28% of families with pets have experienced a barrier to veterinary care, mostly limited finances. While the impact on pets can be devastating, a lack of care can also cause distress for the family and affect their overall health.
To enroll in the program, families first speak with their social service provider about needed veterinary care. The social service agency would then enroll them into AlignCare, and they can then go to an enrolled provider. Most of the time, the family may need to pay a co-pay for services.
AlignCare pays the majority of the cost for the pet’s care, according to officials. By taking the One Health approach, AlignCare can use existing resources in a community to care for all members of a family, according to a release from officials.
“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,” said Michael Blackwell, the program director and founder of AlignCare.