By Doug Nadvornick

The WSU College of Nursing has secured a $1.3 million federal grant to teach people with multiple chronic health issues how to better manage their conditions.

Nursing associate dean for research Cindy Corbett says the four-year National Institute on Aging grant pairs her college with Aging and Long Term Care of Eastern Washington and the Community Health Association of Spokane (CHAS). She says the project will use a chronic care management model adopted by the Washington Department of Social and Health Services.

Corbett says the money will allow the Spokane group to hire a three-person care team, including a nurse and a social worker, that will recruit 300 CHAS patients with at least two chronic conditions, such as diabetes and high blood pressure. Half of the participants will receive regular visits from the care team, which will offer information and advice to patients and help them set health-related goals. The other participants will get minimal attention from the team. The patients will be mentored and monitored for a year.

Corbett says the purpose of the study is to determine whether the care team’s interventions will lead to better health for the people who receive the help. She says the partners are particularly interested in whether those patients become more actively involved in their own care and use hospital emergency rooms less frequently.

“This project will help people focus on taking small incremental steps to become healthier and find the right motivation to do it,” said Lynn Kimball, planning & resource development manager for Aging & Long Term Care of Eastern Washington. “It helps bridge the gap between what happens in the doctor’s office and what happens when a person gets home.”

“We want to understand how effective chronic care management can be with our chronically ill patients who have complicated medical histories,” said Michael Wiser, CHAS public policy and development coordinator. “We provide similar care coordination services, but this study will help us consider options to expand this type of service to patients most in need.”

Wiser says the members of the grant-funded team will be based at CHAS clinics.

Corbett says the care team won’t have the capacity to monitor all 300 patients at once so they’ll stagger their recruitment and work with a few dozen patients at a time. As a result, she says the patient management part of the study will take about three-and-a-half years.

WSU Spokane professors Kenn Daratha, Sterling McPherson and Sean Murphy will be part of the team that analyzes the data that are collected.

Alli Benjamin, WSU College of Nursing, 509-324-7340,