CLEVELAND, Miss. (AP) — The federal Department of Health and Human Services has awarded a grant of nearly $525,000 to the Robert E. Smith School of Nursing at Delta State University.
The university said the 2014 Delta States Rural Development network Grant, provided by the Health Resources and Services Administration, will support efforts of the Delta Healthy Families Project.
Over the next three years, grants of more than $1.57 million will be injected into the project, which targets improving the health of residents of Delta counties.
Shelby Polk, a Delta State assistant professor of nursing, said the grant program supports projects centered on cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity in order to improve health in rural Delta communities.
The grant will be used for services in Attala, Benton, Bolivar, Carroll, Coahoma, Holmes, Grenada, Lafayette, Leflore, Marshall, Montgomery, Panola, Quitman, Sunflower, Tallahatchie, Tate, Tippah, Tunica, Union, Washington and Yalobusha counties.
The number of people living there with a high body mass index, diabetes and heart disease exceeds state and national averages, according to data from the Centers 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, Polk said. Diabetes and heart disease can be more effectively treated by addressing underlying root causes such as obesity, Polk said.
“You’ve got to treat obesity to really manage these other issues,” Polk said. “However, we want people to know these programs are not just about weight loss — they’re also about changes in lifestyles.”
Polk said university staff will be working with Delta residents on the “social, physical, emotional and all aspects that go along with chronic disease.”