WVU receives federal grant to support cardiovascular health and wellness

West Virginia University health services researchers are embarking on a five-year initiative with clinic and community partners to address cardiovascular health disparities. The integrated system of care links individuals with agencies that offer essential services, such as health care, housing, transportation and access to nutritious food.

"This initiative brings together health care and social service organizations to work side-by-side in improving the cardiovascular health of adults in West Virginia regions with especially high rates of hypertension," said Adam Baus, director of the WVU Office of Health Services Research and assistant professor in the School of Public Health Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences.

Baus and Andrya Durr, research specialist with the Office of Health Services Research, are leading the project as co-principal investigators.

The work is taking place in partnership with Cabin Creek Health Systems, a federally qualified health center based in Kanawha County, West Virginia, and the West Virginia Bureau for Public Health – Division of Health Promotion and Chronic Disease. Cabin Creek Health Systems, the Division of Health Promotion and Chronic Disease and the Office of Health Services Research have a long-standing partnership in working to address chronic disease prevention and control.

Baus said the initiative is an extension of that relationship and a substantial opportunity for community health improvement.

The initiative is supported by a $3.25 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention. WVU is one of only 13 grantees nationwide. The project targets areas with at least a 53% prevalence of hypertension.

A central component of the initiative is the establishment of a Learning Collaborative – a coalition of local organizations providing essential services such as health care, housing, transportation, childcare and food access. Tamara Eubanks, program coordinator with the Office of Health Services Research and Charleston resident, co-leads the Learning Collaborative. She will be instrumental in engaging all partners in a way in which their strengths are leveraged, and their collective power is realized.

Currently, the Learning Collaborative includes the United Way of Central WV, the Charleston-Kanawha Housing Authority, Keep Your Faith Corporation and the Step-by-Step Resource Center.

"Our approach focuses on connecting individuals with the resources they need through establishing an enhanced system of referrals and linkages to care," Durr said. She added that the initiative's impact extends beyond Charleston, with plans to use the Learning Collaborative to help spread innovation and replicate the model in other areas of West Virginia with high rates of hypertension, including the state's Northern Panhandle.

While the project has a five-year span, Baus emphasized that this is just the beginning. "This grant allows us to build on successes, learn from challenges and strengthen community partnerships. We're committed to making this a worthwhile effort for our clinical and community partners and sustaining this work beyond the grant period. We’re so grateful for the incredible people and organizations working together for the common goal of improving cardiovascular health."



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WVU School of Public Health