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Nursing school awarded substantial health grant

Dr. Shelby Polk, assistant professor in the Robert E. Smith School of Nursing, recently helped the university receive a Health Resources and Services Administration Delta States Rural Development Network Grant in the amount of $524,839 for fiscal year 2014.

Delta State’s Robert E. Smith School of Nursing (RESSON) recently received a major grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration, an agency of the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services.

This Delta States Rural Development Network Grant, in the amount of $524,839 for fiscal year 2014, will support the Delta Healthy Families Project with $1,574,546 over the next three years.

The purpose of the Delta States Rural Development Network Grant Program is to fund organizations located in the eight Delta states to address unmet local health care needs and prevalent health disparities in rural Delta communities.

Dr. Shelby Polk, assistant professor of nursing, was the leading figure in the grant application process.

“I am very excited about the opportunities the grant funding will provide for people living in the Mississippi Delta,” said Polk. “We’re very hopeful that everyone will be encouraged to take part in forthcoming programs.”

The Delta States Rural Development Network Grant Program supports projects that demonstrate evidence based and/or promising approaches around cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity in order to improve health status in rural communities throughout the Delta region.

The grant will service 21 designated counties, including those in Service Region A: Attala, Benton, Bolivar, Carroll, Coahoma, Holmes, Grenada, Lafayette, Leflore, Marshall, Montgomery, Panola, Quitman, Sunflower, Tallahatchie, Tate, Tippah, Tunica, Union, Washington and Yalobusha.

The number of people living in these 21 counties with a high Body Mass Index (BMI), diabetes and heart disease exceeded state and national percentages, according to 2009 data derived from the Center for Disease Control and the Mississippi Department of Health Vital Statistics.  

While Mississippi leads the nation in the highest rates for diabetes and heart disease, obesity is one of the most important factors for both of these problems. Diabetes and heart disease can be more effectively treated by initially addressing underlying root causes, such as overweight and obesity.

“You’ve got to treat obesity to really manage these other issues,” added Polk. “However, we want people to know these programs are not just about weight loss — they’re also about changes in lifestyles."

“We’ll be working with psycho, social, physical, emotional and all aspects that go along with chronic disease.”

Polk, along with faculty, staff and nursing students in the Robert E. Smith School of Nursing, will provide health promotion and disease prevention strategies focused on the reduction of obesity rates throughout the 21 designated counties over the next three years.

Four main goals have been established for the program:  
1). The majority of clinical participants enrolled in one or more of the programs offered will achieve: a seven percent or greater weight loss; a 10 percent or greater reducing of waist circumference; personal goals of 150 minutes or more of weekly physical activity; and at least a 35 percent improvement in total score on eating habits and behavioral measures after completion of the curriculum.
2). The majority of families participating in the programs offered will achieve: a 10 percent or greater reduction in waist circumference; customized family-oriented goals relating to physical activity; and at least a 35 percent improvement in total score on eating habits and behavioral measures after completion of the curriculum.
3). All 21 counties of Service Region A in the Mississippi Delta will realize an increase in locally available programs, community-based resources or services through educational outreach and projects by RESSON and partners by the end of the grant project.
4). Increase knowledge base regarding effectiveness of obesity prevention measures and improve coordination among local healthcare providers, clinicians and healthcare personnel in the delivery of obesity programs in the Mississippi Delta.

The programs to be established will offer patients with access to providers and resources that will assist them in the development of self-management skills, motivational strategies and coping mechanisms to make lifestyle changes that result in better health outcomes.

Polk said the grant would also be a learning tool for nursing students, who will work with patients on an individual basis in a clinical setting.

Additional information about the programs to be offered will be available soon. Dr. Shelby Polk can be contacted via email at spolk@deltastate.edu.



 

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