Michael F. Easley

The Great Seal of the State of North Carolina Dempsey Benton

North Carolina
Department of Health and Human Services

For Release: IMMEDIATE
Date: November 14, 2007

  Contact: Carol Schriber

Wellness project to help city employees self-manage heart disease, stroke and diabetes

Pharmacists play a key role in innovative public-private initiative; co-payments for some medications waived for participants.

RALEIGHCity employees in Rocky Mount and Fayetteville are now eligible to participate in a new pilot program, Gift of Health. The Gift of Health project will improve health outcomes for city employees with cardiovascular disease (CVD) and diabetes – the leading causes of death in Eastern North Carolina. That area of the state is part of the “Stroke Belt,” which includes parts of North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, where stroke rates are among the highest in the nation.

The two cities have partnered with the Tri-State Stroke Network (TSSN), the N.C. Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Branch (HDSP), and the American Pharmacists Association Foundation to provide the program.

The innovative project aims to prevent heart disease and stroke, reduce medical emergencies due to cardiovascular disease (CVD) and diabetes, empower participants to manage their condition or conditions better, and to reduce healthcare costs for their employers.

Through Gift of Health, clinically trained pharmacists provide medication therapy management to help city employees who have or are at risk for heart disease, stroke and diabetes manage their condition in consultation with the their physicians.

As an incentive to city employees, co-payments for medicines that treat high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes will be waived for participants. Employees have to be covered by their city health plan in order to be eligible. Participants will have regular meetings with a local pharmacist, who will serve as coach and provide care management and education. The pharmacist will monitor the participant’s health and communicate with the participant’s physician and other healthcare providers on a regular basis. Furthermore, the cities will promote health policies that help all employees to achieve and maintain better health.

Gift of Health is based on the successful “Asheville Project,” which began 10 years ago in Asheville, N.C. and resulted in major health improvements to participating city employees. It also resulted in big healthcare savings to the city, as employees lost less time from work and had lower medical bills.

The first year of the project is partially funded through grants from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the N.C. HDSP Branch. In subsequent years, the municipalities will assume the complete costs after realizing the cost savings of having healthier employees. The plan is to extend the program to other counties with the highest stroke rates in the Tri-State region (GA, NC, SC) over time.



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Debbie Crane