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ECU student Alex Stang, left, works with Shatia Burnette, a patient at the rural Hobgood Clinic. A $9,000 grant is allowing ECU to help the rural community address issues with diabetes. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

Grant Expands Diabetes Services at Hobgood Clinic

By Christine Neff

East Carolina University’s Brody School of Medicine has received a grant to help a small community in rural Halifax County address one of its biggest health concerns – diabetes.

Local health officials estimate that 40 percent of the population in Hobgood suffers from pre-diabetes or diabetes. The disease was named as a contributing condition in 38 percent of the deaths in Halifax County between 2001 and 2005, according to the North Carolina State Center for Health Statistics.

To help turn this tide, the College of American Pathologists’ Humanitarian Grant Program has awarded nearly $9,000 to the Hobgood Clinic, a diabetes testing and education program run by ECU medical students. ECU has provided cost-share funds of about $2,300.

The money will be used to purchase better testing equipment and supplies for the free clinic that meets twice a month.

Now, student-volunteers check the height, weight and blood pressure of their clients and use a glucose meter to test their blood sugar levels. Clients with elevated levels are encouraged to see a physician or make lifestyle changes.

The new grant will pay for a more sophisticated method of testing, the Hemoglobin A1-C test, that measures the average of a patient’s blood glucose levels over a six to 12-week period.

Clients will also receive a visual “road map” of their progress relative to their goals. Some grant funds will be dedicated to attracting more clients and to doing follow-up home visits.

Tonya Johnson, a second-year medical student actively involved in the project, said the grant will benefit the community by bringing services to those who need them. The region is removed geographically from health resources, and some residents struggle to afford medical care.

“We hope to help 600 people, and it’s reasonable to think we could do that. But you know, if we help six people – or even one – and really make a difference, it will be worth it,” she said.

CAP Humanitarian Grants fund pathology and medical services for underserved patients and underdeveloped areas. In recent years, grants have provided cancer screenings for women in Kenya, outreach and testing for HIV/AIDS in Haiti and medical supplies for a laboratory in Nicaragua.

Karlene Hewan-Lowe, Heng Hong, Kimberly Winslow and Edna Denton of ECU’s Pathology and Laboratory Medicine Department submitted the successful grant proposal on behalf of the clinic.

The Hobgood Clinic meets the first and second Saturday of every month at the Thomas Shields Community Center.

Services are free and open to the public.

This page originally appeared in the Aug. 29, 2008 issue of Pieces of Eight. Complete issue is archived at