Five-year cooperative agreement funds interventions to improve chronic disease health care for residents in Southern Maryland.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has awarded the Prince George’s County Health Department a $12 million, five-year cooperative agreement to improve access to chronic disease care for an estimated 1.2 million residents in Prince George’s, Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s counties. The cooperative agreement will fund strategies that establish or strengthen the integration of clinical practice with evidence-based public health programs to improve treatment resources, prevention programs and overall health outcomes for patients at high-risk for diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
“I want to congratulate our Health Department for securing this important grant,” said County Executive Rushern L. Baker, III. “My administration has always been focused on improving access to healthcare. A healthier Prince George’s County is good for our residents, the county and the state. I am extremely proud of the work that our Health Department has done over the last 8 years to address health disparities and this grant will help us continue our efforts for years to come.”
These chronic diseases continue to be among the leading causes of death statewide. Heart disease caused over 2,000 deaths in 2017 in the four-county area; stroke and diabetes caused over 850 deaths. Unmanaged chronic disease contributes substantially to health care costs; approximately 10% of people living with chronic disease in this region of southern Maryland are responsible for 80% of the region’s chronic disease health care costs. Some of the common barriers to care for patients in this region include transportation, health literacy, lack of finances or health insurance coverage, and lack of emotional or social support.
“Working with nearly two dozen leading public and private health care and medical organizations across the state, the Prince George’s County Health Department will harness this opportunity from the CDC and lead an ambitious effort to boost the health care infrastructure for underserved patients who need more help fighting or avoiding these debilitating and deadly diseases,” said Prince George’s County Deputy Health Officer Ernest L. Carter. “We plan to prioritize patients who are high-utilizers of health systems due to frequent hospitalizations and who live in more rural areas where access to care is limited compared to other areas of the state.”
Some of the strategies include innovative uses of technology, such as establishing a bi-directional patient referral system between health care systems and CDC-recognized public health programs, and adopting telehealth programs to tackle barriers to participation and retention in these programs. The project also involves implementing tailored messaging to reach underserved communities with the goal of increasing awareness of chronic diseases and the benefits of lifestyle change programs.