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WVU awarded $400K to help create healthier rural communities


MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The West Virginia University Institute for Community and Rural Health has been awarded $400,000 to improve health of children and adults in rural West Virginia communities by reducing obesity and deaths due to to stroke and heart disease.

The grant is a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Community Transformation Grants program (CTG), which supports public health efforts to reduce chronic diseases, promote healthier lifestyles, reduce health disparities, and control health care spending in small communities.

“The WVU Institute for Community and Rural Health is very excited about receiving this grant award from the CDC,” Larry A. Rhodes, M.D., director of rural programs at WVU’s Health Sciences Center, said. “This will enable us to fulfill a number of goals in enhancing care for the residents of rural West Virginia. In particular, it is a partnership with communities which are considered medically underserved or Health Professional Shortage Areas.”

By focusing on the areas where people live, work, learn, and play, the CTG program is expected to improve the health of more than four out of 10 U.S. citizens—about 130 million Americans.  

“We are fortunate that each of the West Virginia shortage areas communities are served by the Northern WV Rural Health Education Center, a group we have worked with for a number of years in orchestrating student rotations in these communities,” Dr. Rhodes continued. “They have a proven track record of service to both the Health Sciences Center and the people of our state.”

Overall, HHS awarded approximately $70 million in prevention grants to 40 awardees focused on improving the health of small communities across the nation. Administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the CTG Program is a comprehensive prevention and wellness initiative launched in 2011 and funded through the Affordable Care Act’s Prevention and Public Health Fund. These new funds will support areas with fewer than 500,000 people in neighborhoods, school districts, villages, towns, cities, and counties.

“This will involve educational and motivational programs at the community level provided by students from each of the five professional schools at the WVU Health Sciences Center,” Rhodes explained. “A secondary goal of this project is to encourage and enhance students’ interest in providing care in rural areas. Another goal is to nurture collaboration with community based health care providers and the Health Sciences Center in educational and, research activities to improve the health of rural West Virginians. We are very honored and excited to receive this award.”

The Community Transformation Grants are one piece of a broader government effort to address the health and well-being of U.S. communities through initiatives such as the President’s Childhood Obesity Task Force, the First Lady’s Let’s Move! Campaign, the National Prevention Strategy, the National Quality Strategy, and HHS’ Million Hearts Initiative. The Prevention and Public Health Fund, as part of the Affordable Care Act, is supporting the CTG program and other initiatives designed to expand and sustain the necessary capacity to prevent chronic diseases, detect them early, manage conditions before they become severe, and provide states and communities the resources they need to promote healthy living.  

To learn more about the Community Transformation Grant Program, including a list of all awardees, visit www.cdc.gov/communitytransformation.

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lal: 10-19-12