A healthcare initiative being undertaken by a pair of regional institutions has received a major boost, and will soon offer potentially life-saving services to people throughout the area.
Congressman John Barrow (GA-12) announced Thursday that a rural healthcare project championed by Georgia Southern University and East Georgia Healthcare Center to combat diabetes will receive $150,000 in grant money from the Department of Health and Human Services to provide services in Bulloch and surrounding counties.
The initiative, PROJECT ADEPT (Applied Diabetes Education Program using Tele-health), was awarded the monies — potentially $450,000 over three years — by the Rural Health Care Services Outreach Grant Program for a plan to treat a specific healthcare need for rural populations who sometimes haven’t access to proper treatment, said Bryant Smalley, Georgia Southern professor, and Co-Executive Director of the university’s Rural Health Research Institute.
“What we had to demonstrate to the funding agency is that this is a rural-specific plan, and that we can implement healthcare in an area where there is some burden,” Smalley said. “We focused on diabetes, because Southeast Georgia has been identified as a place with a lot of diabetes; it is particularly prevalent in rural settings. It is great concern.”
“We are thrilled (to garner the grant),” he said. “We think it will provide a tremendous service to the residents of this region. It is sorely needed.”
According to Smalley, and Rural Health Research Institute Co-Executive Director Jacob Warren, the program will give access to important diabetes education information to persons who might otherwise not have means to receive it.
“Part of the barrier rural residents face in getting diabetes education is that it is hard for them to get to a doctor’s office,” Smalley said. “And if they do get to an office in a rural area, chances are the office doesn’t have a diabetes educator there to help them learn more about their disease and how they can manage it.”
PROJECT ADEPT’s solution: “There will be a diabetes educator here, at Georgia Southern University, that will be using video-conferencing to provide diabetes education to multiple clinics throughout Southeast Georgia,” he said.
“We will provide diabetes education to 750 East Georgia Healthcare Center patients throughout Southeast Georgia.”
Patients at East Georgia Healthcare clinics in Bulloch, Tattnall, Emanuel, Toombs and Chandler counties will have an opportunity to video-conference with the full-time educator based in Georgia Southern’s Rural Health Research Institute.
“We will connect with the patients using technology,” Smalley said, “We can teach them about managing their condition and create the life-long changes that have to be made once being diagnosed with diabetes.”
Smalley and Warren said PROJECT ADEPT is hoped to be underway beginning this fall.
In addition to the grant awarded to Georgia Southern University, Barrow announced Thursday that $150,000 would also be awarded to Meadows regional Medical Center, Inc. in Vidalia.
"Folks living in rural areas often don’t get the health care that they need because it’s too expensive or too far away from home." Barrow said. "This money’s going to give seniors and folks who can’t get health insurance the chance to get the care that they need close to home."
Jeff Harrison can be reached at (912) 489-9454.