FirstHealth Community Health Services has received a grant from BP Oil Company that will help “fuel” its Diabetes and Nutrition Education Center, a regional medical facility in Pinehurst.
The gift was made possible through the BP Fueling Communities Program, which gives back to local organizations that support health, education, youth, food and housing in order to spread charity and goodwill wherever they are needed most.
The $3,000 grant from the BP Fueling Communities Program will support a new transportation assistance program that will help patients in the Diabetes Self-Management Program who have been identified as at-risk for depression and referred to the program by their primary care providers, including patients from Richmond County.
In order to receive the grant, FirstHealth had to be nominated for the BP program by a local BP retailer.
“Having worked in the outpatient diabetes program under the Kate B. Reynolds Grant for diabetes mellitus and mental health for the last year and a half, I have seen many patients who could not come to their appointments due to lack of funds for gasoline,” said Beverly Graham, R.N., certified psychiatric nurse and mental health coach.
“When I heard about a grant available from the BP Oil Company, I approached Albemarle Oil Company to see if they would be willing to nominate FirstHealth to be a recipient of the grant. They were pleased to do so and nominated some of the counties in which Albemarle Oil Company has a presence,” Graham said.
Albemarle Oil Company was founded in 1935 and is located in Albemarle. The firm owns and operates 23 convenience stores in North and South Carolina.
“Throughout our studies, the diabetes education program has found that diabetes and depression go hand in hand,” said Melissa Herman, program coordinator for the Diabetes and Nutrition Education Center. “We also found that depressed patients with diabetes have a harder time getting to appointments and that they often do not have the funds for gas or a means of transportation.”
Patients in the Diabetes Self-Management Program must first be screened by a diabetes health educator who finds the patient’s results. These results typically indicate depression or even stress-related issues. If patients are diagnosed, they are referred first to mental health coaches for further evaluation and then, if needed, to mental health providers for therapy and possibly medication.
“One of the goals of the grant is to determine if psychological intervention improves outcomes in depressed diabetic patients,” Graham said.
Patients who qualify will receive gas vouchers if they attend their scheduled appointments. In 2011, the Diabetes and Nutrition Education Center received a grant for enhanced diabetes education for patients who have been screened as at-risk for depression from the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust. Since then, the center has successfully begun to impact the communities it serves — Moore, Richmond, Montgomery and Hoke counties.
The grant will continue to serve the center until June of 2013.
“Mental health intervention has had a significant positive impact and improvement on the outcome of diabetes education,” Herman said. “We hope in the future we will have the opportunity to continue to serve our communities in the same ways.”
For more information on FirstHealth’s Diabetes and Nutrition Education Center, visit www.firsthealth.org or call (800) 364-0499.