U of Wyoming health volunteer program helps rural patients manage their chronic conditions

Laramie-based University of Wyoming's healthcare volunteer program Healthy U is helping rural Americans who have chronic diseases learn self-management skills and gain access to health support groups located closer to their homes, NPR reports.

The program, which launched in 2015, is based on an initiative that started at Stanford (Calif.) University. Peer volunteers from rural areas of Wyoming can volunteer to help lead Healthy U. These individuals do not need to have a medical background, but they are required to complete 40 hours of the program's free training, according to the report.

"This curriculum is really designed to be led by peer leaders, which means that the leaders should be equivalent or equal to the people who will eventually be taking the workshops," said Janet Korpela, a Healthy U program development specialist, according to NPR.

After completing training, the volunteer peer leaders take the knowledge they learned and teach patients in their home communities how to better manage their health. Most patients that participate in the program live with chronic conditions including diabetes, high blood pressure and arthritis.

Since launching in Wyoming, Healthy U has impacted 378 patients statewide. It is currently working on expanding into the four remaining counties in the state that it has yet to reach.

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