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THA administers grant funds to area

The Tombigbee Healthcare Authority facilitated the disbursement of $288,000 of grant funding Thursday when it passed out ceremonial checks to nine organizations from around Southern Alabama.

THA serves as the lead agency for an 18-county area that will benefit from $1.4 million in grant money awarded to the Delta Rural Access Program (DRAP).

“It’s a Delta Health Development Grant issued by (Health Resource Service Administration),” Loretta Wilson, program manager for DRAP, said of the funds.

The DRAP program, which initially was designed to benefit Mississippi but later expanded to included Alabama counties, works in multiple phases. One focus of the program is chronic disease management. Wilson indicated the focus of that component would narrow as DRAP moves forward.

“We are going to narrow our scope,” she said. “We’ve been out there for three years and we know we have some problems.” DRAP’s disease management endeavors will focus entirely upon diabetes education control for the immediate future.

The program also offers a pharmaceutical assistance initiative in which it helps individuals find the lowest cost options for prescribed medications.

“We fund the medication assistance program to try to be a resource to people,” THA CEO and Administrator Mike Marshall, said. “We act as kind of a one-stop shop for those individuals.”

The third phase of DRAP will focus on the utilization of technology in health information management. The program will focus on establishing a more effective method of transporting information between Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital and physicians’ offices in the community.

“This is just a start,” Marcia Pugh, Division Director for Grants Research Outreach of West Alabama, said of the DRAP pilot project.