United Health Foundation Awards Delta Health Alliance $80,000 Grant to Support Innovative Patient-Centered Diabetes Program

November 12, 2013
  • Funding to support diabetes prevention and education program for Mississippi Delta-area patients
  • Panel of public health experts and community leaders explores ways to strengthen care and services

United Health Foundation awarded an $80,000 grant to the Delta Health Alliance (DHA) to help strengthen the alliance’s efforts to improve care for diabetes patients in the Mississippi Delta.

The announcement was made during a community forum and roundtable discussion, “Innovations in Prevention and Treatment of Diabetes: Making a Difference in the Lives of People in the Mississippi Delta,” that brought together health experts, community leaders and patients for a discussion on diabetes programs in the Delta region.

During the event, panelists shared innovative strategies to treat and prevent diabetes for patients. Several public-private partnerships, including DHA’s Delta Diabetes Project, were highlighted for their success in developing strategies to prevent and treat diabetes.

The United Health Foundation grant will be used to strengthen the Delta Diabetes Project, which supports DHA’s patient-centered medical home (PCMH) model of primary care. The work will focus on tackling diabetes among uninsured and under-insured patients with diabetes in Bolivar, Sunflower and Washington counties, who will have an opportunity to receive care through a clinical team approach and gain education that will enable them to self-manage their disease.

The Delta Diabetes Project provides care through a unique clinical team that includes a nurse practitioner, licensed nurse, community health worker and a registered dietitian. These professionals work together to provide coordinated care for patients who may face barriers to care that are common among patients with limited financial resources or who have limited access to care. The goal is to utilize the network of care and coordination to improve the lives of diabetes patients in the region.

“We are delighted to partner with United Health Foundation to expand our work with diabetes patients,” said Karen Matthews, CEO of Delta Health Alliance. “This partnership will increase our efforts in tackling chronic diseases like diabetes through the PCMH model and is a great example of the mission of DHA.”

The funding comes at a critical time as there is a shortage of primary care providers in the Delta, which makes it difficult for high-volume rural clinics to devote resources to educating patients about disease self-management.

As a result, DHA began work with the PCMH model in 2008 – its 21st Century Clinic project uses a unique clinical team approach, including a nurse practitioner, licensed nurse, community health worker, licensed social worker and registered dietitian. The clinical team provides evidenced-based treatment while helping patients address barriers to care that are common among low-income patients in the Mississippi Delta.

Initial data shared during the roundtable discussion indicate the results from DHA’s PCMH project are encouraging and suggest that improvements in chronic disease outcomes are due in large part to care provided by the PCMH team. Patients with diabetes experienced statistically significant reductions in HbA1c, or high blood sugar, and related high-risk complications associated with diabetes. Expected outcomes for the DHA Delta Diabetes Project include: 1) reduction in HbA1c levels, 2) improvement in blood pressure levels, 3) reduction in emergency room visits and hospitalizations, and 4) increased patient self-management.

United Health Foundation believes the Delta Diabetes Project can play a pivotal role in bringing new, innovative approaches in diabetes care to patients in the Mississippi Delta region,” said Kate Rubin, President of United Health Foundation. “This model is showing significant results and increasing not only care, but education for the patients with the greatest need.”

During the roundtable discussion, health experts and community leaders shared information about other innovative diabetes care and management programs in the region. Local commentator Anne Martin led the panel discussion that included State Rep. Willie Bailey; Sebrenia Robinson, chronic disease program coordinator Mississippi Department of Health; Jane Calhoun, DHA medical director, 21st Century Clinics; Kimberly Massey, DHA project director, Delta BLUES Beacon Community; Shelby Polk, DNP, professor of Nursing at Delta State University; and Dr. David Wiliams, medical director, UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Mississippi.

“Diabetes creates many disparities for the residents of our communities, given our rural setting and challenges to access of care,” said Rep. Bailey. “We are grateful to the many innovative public-private partnerships, including the one announced today with United Health Foundation, for their commitment to help improve the quality of life for so many residents who are relying on these programs.”

During the event, the Delta Health Alliance also provided diabetes screenings conducted by the patient-centered medical home (PCMH) team from the Leland Medical Clinic. Several local residents as well as employees of Mississippi State University/Delta Research Extension Center and U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service employees participated in the screenings.

About the Delta Health Alliance
The Delta Health Alliance (DHA) is a 501c3 non-profit organization headquartered in Stoneville, Mississippi, that aims to improve the health of the 400,000 men, women, and children who call the Mississippi Delta their home. To discover more about DHA, please visit www.deltahealthalliance.org or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

About United Health Foundation
Guided by a passion to help people live healthier lives, United Health Foundation provides helpful information to support decisions that lead to better health outcomes and healthier communities. The Foundation also supports activities that expand access to quality health care services for those in challenging circumstances and partners with others to improve the well being of communities. After its establishment by UnitedHealth Group [NYSE: UNH] in 1999 as a not-for-profit, private foundation, the Foundation has committed more than $210 million to improve health and health care. For additional information, please visit www.unitedhealthfoundation.org.

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