Multicultural and Community Affairs

Creighton University Awarded More Than $1 Million to Decrease Chronic Diseases in Douglas County

Creighton University was awarded a Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) grant totaling $1,478,778 over the next three years for new models in reducing health disparities in the African-American population in Douglas County.

“The cost of managing chronic diseases in Douglas County is enormous and growing,” said Sade Kosoko-Lasaki, M.D., associate vice provost, Health Sciences and principal investigator of the grant. “In this country, chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes are the leading causes of death, disability, and health care costs, accounting for 7 of 10 deaths among Americans each year, and more than 80 percent of the $2.7 trillion our nation spends annually on medical care.”

Kosoko-Lasaki said the African American population in Douglas County experiences above average incidence of death and disability due to chronic diseases. Despite the progress communities have made in addressing health disparities, there are barriers that prevent effective, culturally competent care from becoming a reality. These challenges call for the development of new and innovative models in reducing health disparities in our communities. Creighton University’s Center for Promoting Health and Health Equity- Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (CPHHE-REACH) program is a partnership that has joined forces with community stakeholders in Douglas County, to solve this issue. Co-Investigators on the award are John Stone, M.D., Ph.D., professor in the Center for Health Policy and Ethics, School of Medicine, and Jeffrey Smith, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Education.

Community partners include Douglas County Health Department Omaha Housing Authority, Charles Drew Health Center, Nebraska Center for Healthy families and Collective for Youth. The Creighton School of Medicine Department of Cardiology is also a partner.

The Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) award is part of a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) initiative to support public health efforts to reduce chronic diseases, promote healthier lifestyles, reduce health disparities, and control health care spending. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will administer the grants, which will run for 3 years, subject to availability of funds.

Overall, HHS awarded $35 million in new grant awards to 49 local health agencies. REACH, a CDC program that began in 1999, focuses on racial and ethnic communities experiencing health disparities. Awardees include local governmental agencies, community-based nongovernmental organizations, tribes and tribal organizations, Urban Indian Health Programs, and tribal and intertribal consortia. The awardees will use public health strategies to reduce tobacco use and exposure, improve nutrition, increase physical activity, and improve access to chronic disease prevention, risk reduction, and management opportunities.

Seventeen organizations are receiving funds for basic implementation activities; 32 additional organizations are receiving funds to immediately expand their scope of work to improve health and reduce health disparities. REACH is financed in part by the Prevention and Public Health Fund of the Affordable Care Act.

To learn more about the Center for Promoting Health and Health Equalities’ prevention and wellness projects, visit