Hale County clinic awarded $10,000 grant for diabetes testing

AUBURN – A medical clinic in rural Hale County, where student pharmacists from the Auburn University Harrison School of Pharmacy are trained, has been awarded a $10,000 grant to help test patients for diabetes.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Alabama has the highest prevalence rate of diabetes in the country, and Hale County is one of the highest in the state.

Hale County residents also face illiteracy, significant financial hardship, lack of transportation and destruction left by April’s tornadoes. The clinic, located approximately 20 miles south of Tuscaloosa, was not damaged is the storms, but it serves patients who were affected from Tuscaloosa and many small surrounding communities.

Roche Diabetes Care, makers of ACCU-CHEK diabetes products and services, awarded $10,000 each to five nonprofit organizations focused on helping underserved areas with a high incidence of diabetes and $25,000 to support the work in Latin America by the International Diabetes Federation’s Life for a Child Programme.

“The grant will enable us to provide free lab tests and individualized clinical pharmacy diabetes education and nutritional counseling to underserved people, including those impacted by the tornadoes,” said Heather Whitley, a clinical assistant professor in the pharmacy school and director of the Moundville Medical Clinic’s diabetes program.

The grant announcement coincides with the start of this year’s Big Blue Test, a diabetes awareness program from the Diabetes Hands Foundation aimed at reinforcing the importance of exercise in managing diabetes.

From now until midnight Pacific Time Nov. 14, World Diabetes Day, people with diabetes are encouraged to test their blood sugar, get active, test again and share the results online at www.bigbluetest.org.

Every time someone participates in the Big Blue Test and shares the experience on the website, a donation of life-saving supplies will be made on their behalf to someone with diabetes in need. Recent studies show that regular exercise of  just 14 minutes per day can decrease participants’ blood sugar level between 15 and 20 percent.

“Exercise to help you – and help someone who really needs it get life-saving diabetes supplies,” said Manny Hernandez, president of the Diabetes Hands Foundation.

In 2010, Roche Diabetes Care funded the production of the Big Blue Test video and helped it go viral by donating 75 cents for each of the first 100,000 views, resulting in total donation of $75,000.

The Big Blue Test started in 2009 as a creative way to encourage people with diabetes to stay active. It has grown into a global, viral campaign to raise awareness about the benefits of exercise for people with diabetes and help support diabetes charities in the process. It is a program organized by the Diabetes Hands Foundation, in collaboration with www.DiabetesDaily.com, www.DiabetesStories.com  and the Psychology and Educational Sciences Department of the Internet Interdisciplinary Institute (IN3) at Universitat Oberta de Catalunya.

(Written by Amy Weaver.)

Contact: Heather P. Whitley, Auburn University Harrison School of Pharmacy, (205) 348-1333 (whitlhp@auburn.edu), or Mike Clardy, Office of Communications and Marketing, (334) 844-9999 (claredch@auburn.edu)