PITTSBURG — All the seats were filled in the waiting room at the Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas, Tuesday morning.

The seats were filled for a ceremony for the center and the Southeast Kansas Independent Living Center because they collectively received a total of $93,000 in grants awarded by UnitedHealthcare.

The grants are part of the Frontier Rural Health Care grant program, which fund organizations  and programs aimed at improving health resources and programs for people living in rural areas of Kansas. CHC/SEK received $48,000 and SKIL received $45,000.

Kansas Lieutenant Governor, Dr. Jeff Colyer, was present during the ceremony, he praised the health centers and the community for working together to provide services for patients.

“We are the heart of soul of America and that's what I’m truly passionate about,” Colyer said.

“This is one of those examples —  a very special example of how we, together as Kansans,  whether through the community health center — through SKIL, with UnitedHealthcare, with our patients, with our providers, with donors that have contributed, the businesses and communities here and how we are rallying together.

“This is a tremendous story about what it’s like to be a Kansan and what is happening today.”

SKIL will be taking their grant out to 70 patients who have symptoms of, or have, diabetes. A mobile platform set-up will be provided to them as an educational tool to learn about managing diabetes or learning how to get healthy to prevent the diabetes.
“If a patient can better manage their diabetes they won't end up in the emergency room, they won't crash and they won't be in that position,”  CEO of UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Kansas Kevin Sparks said. “The service will help produce a better quality of life for the patient, which means they consume less services.”

SKIL President and CEO Shari Coatney said SKIL is excited to use technology to help with diabetes management, which the center will work with professionals and customize technology to meet the needs of the person.  

“We are really excited about taking smart phones — technology everybody has now — and taking the information that is available through different apps and working with our home healthcare center to be able to provide education and really work with them as a peer opportunity skill,” Coatney said.

Coatney said she would like to expand the application to those with traumatic brain injuries and people with cognitive disabilities in the future.

Sparks said UnitedHealthcare chose to give a grant to CHC/SEK because UnitedHealthcare’s goal is to provide access to healthcare — CHC/SEK can provide more access through telemedicine, he said.

“What were are trying to do is extend care to meet people where they are,” Sparks said. “We feel they can get better outcomes if you can provide access to health care where people can consume so to speak.”

— Stephanie Potter is a staff writer at the Morning Sun. She can be emailed at spotter@morningsun.net or follow her on Twitter @PittStephP and Instagram @stephanie_morningsun.