image of barnstable county courthouse

Chronic Disease Prevention In State Spotlight

The Prevention Wellness Trust Fund’s (PWTF) effort to prevent chronic disease in Massachusetts was the topic of an informational hearing for the Joint Committee on Public Health at the Massachusett’s State House on June 14, 2016.  Prior to the hearing nine state health policy leaders presented a statement promoting the PWTF as the “first-in-the-nation effort to bring proven public health prevention programs to scale in order to reduce the rate of preventable health conditions and to eliminate inequities in health outcomes.”

According to the to the State House News Service (K.Lanna 6/14/2016) Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel testified during the hearing that “We will not successfully reach our goals of improving health outcomes and reducing costs, especially for those who are at risk of chronic disease, without building our public health capacity and linking it to our health care system in a coordinated way… This is the future of health care, and this is why the Prevention and Wellness Trust Fund is so important.”

Barnstable County is one of nine PWTF partnerships in Massachusetts. The PWTF Barnstable Partnership covers the 110,484 residents of Bourne, Falmouth, Mashpee, and Barnstable, representing half of the Cape Cod area.  According to information from MA Department of Public Health (2011-2014):

  • 31.9% of adults in Barnstable County have been told they have hypertension vs. 28.8% statewide.
  • 15.3% of residents in Barnstable County over age 65 have experienced a fall with an injury in the last 12 months vs. 10.1% statewide.

The Barnstable County Department of Human Services is the coordinating partner for the Barnstable Partnership, which is presently overseeing an annual budget of approximately $1.4 million. The Trust Fund is scheduled to expire June 30, 2017, unless is re-authorized by the MA legislature.

With funding from the Commonwealth’s Prevention and Wellness Trust Fund (PWTF), the Barnstable County Department of Human Services formed the Barnstable Prevention Partnership which consists of three local community health centers and two local community organizations.  The Barnstable Prevention Partnership has created a referral and health education system that is based on the concept of self-management of health risks with a focus on preventing hypertension, diabetes, and falls.  It is one of nine such partnerships funded by the PWTF that share over $40 million in grants to help fight chronic illness and improve health outcomes on the community level while reducing health care costs.