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UHV receives $100,000 grant from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas

A $100,000 grant awarded by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas to the University of Houston Foundation will fund a yearlong community-based program led by two UHV faculty members focusing on ways to reduce chronic kidney disease in at-risk populations.

Fred Litton

The $100,000 grant is funded through Healthy Kids, Healthy Families® – Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas’ signature community investments program. The funding will finance a program by The Victoria Alliance Against Chronic Kidney Disease. The program will examine risk factors for chronic kidney disease and look for ways patients can lower their chances of developing kidney problems.

“Receiving this grant from a group as large and prestigious as Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas is an exciting development for the university,” said Fred Litton, dean of the UHV School of Education, Health Professions & Human Development. “We are honored to have their support, and I look forward to seeing the results come together during the next year.”

UHV and the alliance will partner to test individuals for risk factors and provide health education sessions as well as incentives to program participants. Out of the 12 organizations awarded funds this year through Healthy Kids, Healthy Families®, UHV was the only institute of higher learning.

“Chronic kidney disease is a condition that is negatively impacting the lives of many Texans, so it’s vital that we strategically join forces with organizations like the University of Houston Foundation and The Victoria Alliance Against Chronic Kidney Disease to make a difference in combating this disease,” said Dr. Dan McCoy, president of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas. “This project to educate and raise awareness around chronic kidney disease can be beneficial in helping patients to not only lower their chances of developing kidney problems but also help them to better manage this disease.” 

Michael Wiblishauser

Michael Wiblishauser, UHV assistant professor of health studies, and Karen Carmargo, clinical assistant professor of nursing, will lead the alliance, which is a partnership with the Victoria County Public Health Department as well as Dr. Fasail N. Khan and Dr. Haresh Kumar of Victoria Nephrology Associates.

“Kidney disease is the ninth leading cause of death in the U.S., but it doesn’t get nearly the attention that tobacco and other causes do,” Wiblishauser said. “With these funds, we plan to take a closer look at two of the major risk factors of kidney disease – high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes – and see if those risks can be mitigated.”

The Victoria County Public Health Department will help recruit up to 100 participants to receive blood pressure and blood sugar tests from Kumar and Khan at the beginning of the study. Based on the test results, participants will be placed in one of three risk categories: low, moderate or severe.

During the following year, participants will have access to health education sessions including nutrition and physical activity plans, and speakers who will share information about healthy living, such as how to reduce and release stress. The participants’ blood pressure and blood glucose levels also will be tested monthly.

Jesse Pisors

“This type of program is something that has never been done before,” Wiblishauser said. “We’re hoping that our participants will see a measurable reduction in risk factors at the end of the testing period. If we do, that will help doctors better treat their patients and find ways to prevent kidney disease.”

The program opens some exciting possibilities for UHV and the Victoria community, said Jesse Pisors, UHV vice president for advancement and external relations.

“This is the first time UHV has received a grant from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas,” Pisors said. “This grant and the partnership that has been established with the Victoria community are clear indications that UHV is doing quality research that can make a difference in people’s health and lives. We are grateful for all the endorsements and support.”

For more information about the program, contact Wiblishauser at 361-570-4178 or wiblishauserm@uhv.edu.

The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973, offers courses leading to 70 bachelor’s, master’s and specialist degree programs and concentrations in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as a teaching center in Katy, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities, and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.