February 21, 2013

Grant to help battle diabetes in Murray

Submitted by the Northwest Georgia Healthcare Partnership

— With a variety of health concerns looming around every corner, local leaders embraced a grant aimed at tackling diabetes. The Northwest Georgia Healthcare Partnership applied for the Appalachian Diabetes Control and Translation Project grant in November; competing against communities across the 13 states that are included in the Appalachian area.

This project is a partnership supported by the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation. It is managed by the Center for Rural Health at Marshall University, located in Huntington, W.Va. In December, Marshall University announced the Healthcare Partnership’s application was one of five awarded funding in 2013.

Since 2001, coalitions in 66 Appalachian counties have been funded by the project. The current round of funding is to support counties designated by the ARC as distressed and at risk. Murray County recently became eligible to receive funding.

“There is so much we can do,” explained Healthcare Partnership board member Sherrie Patterson. Patterson is the owner of Sutter Family Practice in Murray County. “Diabetes is a real issue, especially in a rural county like Murray. This project will give us an opportunity to improve the quality of life in our community.”

Patterson joined other Healthcare Partnership board members, staff and partners in Birmingham, Ala., last week to design a work plan for the grant. For more than 20 years, the local not-for-profit organization has served both Whitfield and Murray counties but plans to focus heavily in Murray County during this project.

“The precise work plan is still being developed, but we have agreed on a focus area,” said Bernita Cofield, a Healthcare Partnership board member and owner of Indian Trace Golf Course in Murray County. “We would like to work with adults that are at risk for diabetes as well as older adults that have a hard time managing their diabetes.”

A two-day workshop facilitated by Marshall University provided key ingredients for the group’s work plan development. In addition to Patterson and Cofield, Healthcare Partnership board member Cathy Holmes and staff members Nancy Kennedy, Ali Whittier and Esther Familia-Cabrera attended the planning workshop. Steven Miracle, CEO of Georgia Mountains Health, also contributed to the group’s efforts.

The Appalachian Diabetes Control and Translation Project will last four years. Having a strong coalition with the willingness to integrate a community health worker program were key components of the application process. The Healthcare Partnership is governed by a 30-member board of directors and currently employs an eight-member staff including five community health workers.

Countless individuals volunteer for the organization each year during events such as the Bill Gregory Healthcare Classic and the Erwin Mitchell Community Health Fair as well as other community outreach events organized by the community health worker/Promotoras de Salud initiative. To learn more about the Healthcare Partnership, visit www.nghp.org, call (706) 272-6662 or search social media outlets.