by Emily Ford, Salisbury Post
KANNAPOLIS — The Cabarrus Health Alliance will receive $1.8 million from Duke University as part of a federal grant to help improve Type 2 diabetes care and reduce the cost of managing the disease.
The award will create seven new jobs in Cabarrus County, including community health workers, information officers and health integrators.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid recently awarded $9.7 million to Duke University to coordinate a three-year program to improve Type 2 diabetes care and management and reduce healthcare costs in the southern United States.
Duke University funneled some of the money to Cabarrus Health Alliance. The two organizations have partnered for nearly five years on Duke’s MURDOCK Study, based at the N.C. Research Campus in Kannapolis and named for campus founder David Murdock.
Duke’s diabetes project was one of 26 to receive funding from more than 3,000 applicants. Collectively, the 26 projects should reduce healthcare spending by $254 million over the next three years.
“The goal is to improve health outcomes first, but also to reduce the cost on the healthcare system,” said Dr. William Pilkington, CEO and director of public health for Cabarrus Health Alliance.
If Type 2 diabetes is not managed properly, healthcare costs associated with the disease can skyrocket, he said.
Over the three-year grant program, Pilkington said, the team’s multifaceted approach “will have dramatic results in improving our understanding of diabetes and how we can reduce the economic and health effects of this illness.”
Duke is also launching the project in Durham County, Mingo County, W.Va. and the Mississippi Delta Range.
Cabarrus Health Alliance will focus on better management of patients and more consistent treatment throughout the healthcare system, Pilkington said.
After three years, the results from new practices in Cabarrus County and Duke’s other locations could set new standards for healthcare providers throughout the country, he said.
“It’s significant that we’ve been chosen,” he said. “Duke has the reputation to take grants like this and translate them into practice in a variety of medical settings.”
The Health Alliance serves as the public health department for Cabarrus County.
Cabarrus was chosen in part because it is the 29th fastest growing county in the nation and has the fastest growing Hispanic population of any county in North Carolina.
The death rate from diabetes in Cabarrus is still greater than the state rate, despite recent improvements, and diabetes represents a top-five cause of death among minorities.
The grant was awarded to Duke in partnership with the University of Michigan National Center for Geospatial Medicine.
Dr. Robert Califf, vice chancellor for clinical and translational research at and director of the Duke Translational Medicine Institute
, will lead the project.
The grant will create a team of trained healthcare workers who will use new technologies to deliver diabetes care and information and educate patients. The project also will create an information system to allow care teams to understand the changing diabetes landscape across the nation.
Califf also leads the MURDOCK Study, which focuses on improving how diseases are diagnosed and treated.
“Duke Medicine is committed to improving the health of the southeastern United States and beyond,” he said. “By capitalizing on the strong, existing relationships that we have developed in Cabarrus County, particularly with the Cabarrus Health Alliance through the MURDOCK Study and other efforts, we are aptly positioned to change the course of the diabetes epidemic that continues to plague our country.”
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.