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Faculty Spotlight

Richard D. Crespo, Ph.D., professor and longtime researcher in the department of family and community health at the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, has received a $1.3 million federal grant to continue health care work in coal-impacted communities in West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio.

The Appalachian Regional Commission grant is directed towards high-risk diabetes patients and will fund establishing care coordination teams that include community health workers (CHWs) as part of the team.

The grant will support more than two dozen CHWs who will work with patients in their homes and communities, equipping them with self-management skills to control their condition.  Partners in this grant are health insurance companies, with the long-term goal of providing reimbursement that sustains CHW employment.

“This grant will enable us to do something that has not been done before in our region; that is establishing sustainable funding for people who work at the grassroots level,” Crespo said.

For two decades, Crespo has directed diabetes translational programs across southern West Virginia and the Appalachian region through the Robert C. Byrd Center for Rural Health and the School of Medicine at Marshall. Working with onsite health care providers in the highly affected regions, Crespo has been successful in creating coalitions to implement evidence-based programs that support long-term changes.

“Dr. Crespo understands the dynamics of health care in the underserved areas of our state,” said Stephen Petrany, M.D., chair of the department of family medicine. “This grant provides operational money to assist in the expansion of the programs already in place by training new workers to implement the existing successful strategies.”

Crespo graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Wheaton College and completed his master’s and doctoral work at Michigan State University.