Big Sandy Health Care, Inc. Receives Federal Grant to Help Older Adults Manage Chronic Disease

August 18, 2017

Big Sandy Health Care, Inc. (BSHC) Chief Executive Officer Ancil Lewis announced that the organization has received a $677,000 grant from the U.S. Health and Human Services Administration on Aging (AOA) to provide chronic disease self-management education (CDSME) to people age 60 and over in its service area. The funding will also allow BSHC to provide chronic disease self-management training to other organizations across Kentucky, particularly in the eastern part of the state.

BSHC operates five community health centers in a primary service area that includes Floyd, Johnson, Magoffin, Martin and Pike counties. In 2016, BSHC provided nearly 74,000 medical visits to over 20,000 patients.

According to the AOA, about 80 percent of older adults in the United States have at least one chronic condition, and nearly 70 percent of Medicare beneficiaries have two or more. This places older adults at greater risk for premature death, poor functional status, unnecessary hospitalizations, adverse drug events and nursing home placement. Chronic conditions also have a significant impact on health care costs. About 95 percent of health care costs for older Americans can be attributed to chronic disease.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people living in Appalachia are more likely to have chronic disease including diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer. According to the 2015 Kentucky Behavioral Risk Factor Survey, 17.3 percent of people living in the Big Sandy Area Development District (ADD) have diabetes, compared to 13.4 percent in Kentucky and 9.9 percent in the nation. About 9 percent of Big Sandy ADD residents have heart disease, compared to 6 percent in Kentucky and 3.9 percent in the United States, and 44.3 percent of residents have arthritis, compared to 32 percent in Kentucky and 25.3 percent nationwide. Big Sandy ADD has the highest rate of COPD, emphysema and chronic bronchitis in the state at 19.2 percent. The region also experiences high rates of cancer including lung, breast, colorectal and prostate cancer. According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s 2016 County Health Rankings, all five counties in BSHC’s primary service area fall in the bottom quartile of Kentucky counties for overall health outcomes.

While BSHC patients already receive disease-specific health education, Lewis said the organization plans to offer the Stanford Chronic Disease Self-Management Program (CDSMP) which provides a broad spectrum of general self-efficacy strategies that can help patients cope with their disease. These include techniques to deal with frustration, pain and isolation; maintain and improve strength, flexibility and endurance; use medications appropriately; communicate effectively with family, friends and health professionals; ensure proper nutrition; make decisions related to care; and evaluate new treatments.

Several studies of CDSMP show that the program can lead to decreased emergency department visits, increased ability to manage disease, better communication with medical providers, less anxiety and depression, and a 70 percent probability of cost-effectiveness.

Lewis said, “BSHC plans to develop, implement and sustain an integrated network with community partners to systematically deliver CDSMP to our patients and others in the region. By helping our patients learn to cope with their disease on a daily basis and by removing barriers to care, we can be instrumental in making sure they have the best health outcomes and greatest quality of life possible.”

Lewis added that the health care delivery system in rural eastern Kentucky reflects a patchwork of organizations, facilities, providers and services that is often difficult for patients with chronic disease to navigate. To assist patients, BSHC will use community health workers to help patients navigate the health and social services system and to provide CDSMP in its service area.

BSHC is one of eight organizations across the nation that received this CDSME funding. According to AOA, the 2017 CDSME grantees will reach about 38,000 older adults and adults with disabilities with evidence-based self-management programs, empowering them to better manage their chronic conditions.

Back to all news