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Wellmark Foundation grant funds unique project for families of Iowans with diabetes

Grant, chosen from 150 requests, focused on improving family diet, exercise habits

February 15, 2011

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(Des Moines, Iowa) – Primary Health Care, Inc. (PHC), in Urbandale will use a two-year, $150,000 grant from the Wellmark Foundation to develop a wellness and prevention program for families of Iowans with diabetes.

Obesity Prevention in the Families of Diabetics will work with central Iowa diabetes patients and their families to prevent the onset of diabetes in family members, especially children. The project will target 40 PHC patients with diabetes and their family members who may be at risk for obesity and its complications.

Project provides counsel on nutrition, physical activity
The chief focus of the project will be to offer the 40 families education on physical activity and nutrition, as well as access to resources in the home and in the community. The effort will incorporate a combination of family and community strategies, closely tied to their medical home at PHC, and tailored for each patient and their family.

Project goals include:

  • Improved family dietary and exercise habits
  • Decline in body mass index (BMI) in family member
  • Improved diabetes control for the individual with diabetes
  • Introduce patient-centered medial home concepts

A wellness coach will conduct a thorough family needs assessment and work with each family to develop a tailored exercise and nutrition plan.

This project is an expansion of a current PHC diabetes intervention and prevention program. Partners include:

  • Access Project
  • Iowans for Social and Economic Development
  • Visiting Nurse Services
  • MedFusion
  • Jimmy Reyes, R.N., and Helena Laroche, M.D., (University of Iowa)

Additional partners include the Grand View University Wellness Center for exercise facilities and training; Des Moines Area Religious Council to develop nutrition counseling; and Iowa State Cooperative Extension for nutritional expertise.

Grant one of only 17 competitively selected
The Wellmark Foundation is a non-profit foundation that seeks to improve the health of Iowans, South Dakotans, and their communities. Through its 2010 Healthy Communities Grant Program, the Foundation received nearly 150 grant requests. This grant award to Primary Health Care, Inc., represents one of 17 competitively awarded to establish or expand health initiatives throughout Iowa and South Dakota.

Cumulatively, The Wellmark Foundation is proud to award $1,334,817 to these 17 grants to serve as catalyst funding for local health projects.

“This project addresses obesity and diabetes prevention from a unique angle,” says Matt McGarvey, the Foundation’s director. “By targeting family members of those already impacted by the complications of diabetes, we can bring prevention to the entire family.”

About Primary Health Care, Inc.
Primary Health Care, Inc. is a team of caring professionals providing healthcare and supportive services for people in Central Iowa to improve their quality of life. PHC is a nonprofit community health center dedicated to serving the medically insured, uninsured and underinsured with their health care needs. Through case management and social work advocacy, PHC works to assure that clients have greater access to resources in the community.

For more information about PHC, contact Bery Engebretsen, M.D., (515) 229-3376 / For more information regarding the Wellmark Foundation and its grant programs, visit



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