Stewart boosts rural health diabetes program

Published 2:42 pm Friday, December 29, 2023

By: Amy Lewis

Selma-Times Journal

In a significant stride towards community health, the Rural Health Medical Program (RHMP) received a generous contribution of $25,000 from State Senator Robert Stewart on Dec. 15. The financial infusion, a component of the Senator’s annual budget, is designated for the RHMP’s innovative Type 2 diabetes prevention program. 

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Keshee Dozier Smith, CEO of Rural Health, expressed her enthusiasm for the program’s potential impact on the community. 

“The Rural Health Medical Program, in partnership with Senator Stewart, is working to increase and expand our efforts across the six counties we serve: Dallas, Wilcox, Clark, Monroe, Perry and Marengo,” Smith said.

Smith emphasized the program’s focus on Type 2 diabetes, noting that while Type 1 is largely genetic and can only be managed, lifestyle changes can significantly improve overall health and even eliminate Type 2 diabetes.

The program aims to collaborate with local gyms, including the YMCA and private fitness centers, offering 90-day memberships to individuals baseline lab work such as glucose tests. Smith outlined the monthly classes that will guide participants through healthy lifestyle changes, with the ultimate goal of reducing or eliminating diabetes. 

“The gym membership is just to jump start the patient’s wellness journey. It takes 21 days to create a habit,” Smith said. “They’ll get into a routine, see the results and want to continue. We know that healthy individuals make healthy communities.”

Senator Stewart, thrilled about the impact this program will have, emphasized the urgent need for accessible health care solutions in communities. 

“I’m so excited that our office was able to steer these funds to help the RHMP,” Stewart said. “They are really filling in the gaps because healthcare is an essential service and so many people in our community are lacking it.”

Smith conveyed her gratitude for the generous support from local contributors as well as the sizable donation from the Senator.

“This funding and funding from others that came to support this initiative is really going to make a big impact across these communities,” Smith said.

With the Senator’s donation, the RHMP aims to reach 3,000 individuals, utilizing the funding towards the 90-day gym memberships, patient education and glucose screenings for those without insurance. 

This collaboration between the RHMP and Senator Stewart underscores the power of public-private partnerships in addressing healthcare disparities and fostering community well-being.