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UPMC Health Plan and Heritage Valley Health System Combine Resources in 'LifeSmart,' A Community Initiative Designed to Prevent Diabetes
Date:2/12/2008

PITTSBURGH, Feb. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- UPMC Health Plan and Heritage Valley Health System are combining resources to introduce an initiative designed to help prevent diabetes in the communities served by Heritage Valley Health System.

The initiative -- known as "UPMC Health Plan Presents: Heritage Valley LifeSmart" -- is designed to identify persons at risk for diabetes, link them to a primary care physician, and provide them with the kind of support they need to keep from getting the disease in the future. Heritage Valley physicians will help screen UPMC Health Plan members and then direct them to specially designed support programs.

"The rise of diabetes in Western Pennsylvania and throughout the United States makes this kind of program timely as well as necessary," said Diane P. Holder, president of UPMC Health Plan. "It is the kind of community health initiative that we continue to support throughout the region."

UPMC Health Plan will contribute $100,000 to Heritage Valley Health System for the program. That amount is matched by two $50,000 donations from the foundations that support Heritage Valley's hospitals in Sewickley and Beaver -- the Sewickley Valley Hospital Foundation and The Medical Center Foundation.

At-risk members will be asked to join one of several healthy lifestyle interventions, such as the Group Lifestyle Balance Program, a modification of the University of Pittsburgh's Diabetes Prevention Program. This program includes instruction on making healthy food choices, increasing physical activity, and developing problem-solving skills. Other programs include smoking cessation, exercise and fitness, and individual nutrition education.

"The focus of LifeSmart will be on increasing community health efforts and creating an initiative in partnership with other community organizations," said Norman F. Mitry, president and CEO, Heritage Valley Health System.

Several community employers, including Blackhawk School District, the County of Beaver, and Friendship Ridge, will invite their employees who are UPMC Health Plan members to participate in the program. A number of health-related businesses in the Beaver-Sewickley area are providing special offers to participants.

According to the University of Pittsburgh Diabetes Institute, type 2 diabetes can be effectively prevented or delayed through intensive lifestyle intervention. However, the Diabetes Institute reports that time constraints on physician staffs often limit the effectiveness of prevention programs and patient education.

"We believe that programs such as ours can assist physicians and develop healthier communities," said Ms. Holder.

About Heritage Valley Health System

Heritage Valley Health System provides comprehensive health care for residents of Allegheny, Beaver, Butler and Lawrence counties, in Pennsylvania; eastern Ohio; and the panhandle of West Virginia. In partnership with more than 500 physicians, Heritage Valley offers a broad range of medical, surgical and diagnostic services at its two hospitals, Heritage Valley Beaver and Heritage Valley Sewickley; in physician offices; and community satellite facilities. Additional information about Heritage Valley Health System is available online at http://www.heritagevalley.org.

About UPMC Health Plan

UPMC Health Plan, the second-largest health insurer in Western Pennsylvania, is owned by the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), one of the nation's top-ranked health systems. The integrated partner companies of the UPMC Insurance Services Division -- which includes UPMC Health Plan, Work Partners, EAP Solutions, UPMC for You (Medical Assistance), and Community Care Behavioral Health -- offer a full range of group health insurance, Medicare, CHIP, Medical Assistance, behavioral health, employee assistance, and workers' compensation products and services to nearly 1 million members. Our local provider network includes UPMC as well as community providers, totaling more than 80 hospitals and more than 7,500 physicians in a 29-county region. For more information, visit http://www.upmchealthplan.com.


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SOURCE UPMC Health Plan
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