Importance of Prevention & Wellness Trust Fund Stressed

WEST BARNSTABLE – Officials with the Barnstable Prevention Partnership and members of the Cape and Islands legislative delegation expressed a need to refund the state’s Prevention & Wellness Trust Fund Wednesday at the YMCA Cape Cod in West Barnstable.

Funding for the state program was excluded from the fiscal year 2018 budget.

The program was created to prevent and reduce chronic disease across the state and to help lower healthcare costs.

The program has brought $4.2 million to the county over the last three years to help local residents self-manage diabetes and hypertension, and to prevent falls among the elderly population.

The Barnstable Prevention Partnership serves the communities of Barnstable, Bourne, Falmouth and Masphee and is made up of the coordinating partner Barnsatble County Department of Human Services, the community partners, Healthy Living Cape Cod and YMCA Cape Cod, clinical partners, Community Health Center of Cape Cod, Duffy Health Center, and Harbor Community Health Center-Hyannis.

“Without this funding, the clinical community based health interventions that we have been implementing over the last three years just would not have been possible at the level of success that I believe we have achieved,” said Stacie Peugh, the president and CEO of the YMCA Cape Cod.

PWTF was established by the state legislature through Chapter 224 of the Acts of 2012. The fund received $60 million dollars over four years through funding from an assessment of health insurers and large hospital systems.

Peugh said there have been many positive outcomes through the partnership including help people to live a healthier lifestyle.

“This funding has certainly facilitated an ability to be able to prove the constructive impact that a group of health and human services agencies can have when we work closely together with this kind of funding,” Peugh said.

Since the program began, 83 percent of the diabetes referrals in the state where from the Barnstable Prevention Partnership.

“The idea of the Prevention & Wellness Trust Fund is that we know that from a public health perspective that public health interventions improve people’s lives and they also save dollars,” said Cape and Islands State Senator Julian Cyr. “The challenge with public health is that it’s really tough to fund these things when we have a healthcare system that is focused on an acute sick care system.”

Sandwich State Representative Randy Hunt, who serves on the House Healthcare Finance Committee, said much more needs to be done in prevention, wellness, education and early intervention of these diseases to lower the costs of healthcare throughout the country.

“We know that it costs an extraordinary amount of money to deal with asthma, diabetes, hypertension and other cardiac conditions,” Hunt said. “And we have had a bad habit of letting those conditions get to the point where they require severe or acute attention as opposed to getting a hold of things early.”

Hunt said he hopes that a supplemental budget can be put in place as early as possible in the new fiscal year which would include a line item to get more funding back into the PWTF.

Centerville State Representative Will Crocker said the PWTF is moving and creating positive outcomes.

“I find it difficult to say we have to stop this train,” he said. “We have to find a way to be able to fund this train because it is causing positive outcomes.”

Craig Foster, of Mashpee, has been a patient of the Community Health Center of Cape Cod since 2014 and was diagnosed with diabetes in 2016.

Foster began home glucose, weight and blood pressure monitoring.

He said the health center made sure he knew the right questions to ask, along with setting him up with the right doctors.

“I can’t say enough about what these programs have done for me as well as my family,” he said. “Now we are all at home eating better with all the better habits that have been instilled.”

Fran Delgado, of Mashpee, was diagnosed with hypertension in 2015. She said she learned so much from her first workshop with Healthy Living Cape Cod and couldn’t wait to go back.

“I learned so much in that first workshop about hypertension and what I could do to manage it and it was all up to me to take control and self-manage myself with an action plan,” Delgado said.

Emotionally, Delgado said we have to keep these programs going.

“It works,” she said.


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