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Hospital lands $1.4M grant funds

The Tombigbee Healthcare Authority announces the receipt of $1.4 Million in grant funds from the Department of Health and Human Services Health Resource and Service Administration (HRSA), Office of Rural Health Policy (ORHP) to continue implementing the Delta States Rural Development Network Grant Program, “DRAP” (Delta Rural Access Program). “DRAP” was established in 2007 as a new initiative to address 18 of Alabama’s rural Delta counties’ unmet local healthcare needs and prevalent health disparities through the development of innovative projects.

Since 2007, DRAP’s efforts have reached more than 12,000 Alabamians through the provision of prescription drugs assistance and health screenings, health fairs, and chronic disease education programs and training in basic first-aid and CPR in multiple locations such as senior centers, faith-based institutions, businesses, schools, and health centers. This has been a great learning experience for all persons working in their respective communities.

Although much has been accomplished, we recognized that DRAP could have a greater impact on the health of Alabamians by intensely focusing efforts on chronic health diseases that are prevalent among the target populations.

Recognizing that diabetes in the Delta counties is increasing at an alarming rate, the DRAP community partners are united in their desire to address diabetes utilizing a comprehensive diabetes management program. Diabetes now affects nearly 24 million people in the United States, an increase of more than 3 million in approximately two years, according to 2007 prevalence data estimates released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

If this trend continues without structured intervention, the number of Alabamians diagnosed with diabetes (currently 379,000 per CDC) will increase significantly. To address this challenge, DRAP’s plans are to 1) implement a comprehensive/integrated program for the prevention, management, and treatment of diabetes in all 18 of Alabama’s DELTA counties utilizing a certified Chronic Disease Self Management Program (CDSMP) curriculum; and 2) implement a comprehensive, integrated system for providing prescription drugs for the medically indigent; as well as Medicare and Medicaid recipients. Community Partners will receive training/ funds to implement both program components.

The Delta Rural Access Program will be implemented in the following 18 Alabama counties: Barbour, Bullock, Butler, Choctaw, Clarke, Conecuh, Dallas, Escambia, Hale, Macon, Monroe, Perry, Pickens, Washington, Wilcox; Greene, Sumter, and Marengo.

These counties are rural, medically underserved, and rank among the poorest in the state and nation. The prevalence of numerous chronic health disorders is higher in these areas than other comparable areas in Alabama, which overall has higher rates than other states in the U.S. In addition to higher chronic disorder rates, this area suffers from inaccessibility to healthcare due to the unavailability of public transportation, limited to no healthcare insurance, low education, and unavailable employment, often results in poor health practices and lack of knowledge about accessing and using health care resources. These factors and others provide insurmountable barriers to healthcare in this area of Alabama.