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For Release:
February 25, 2009

Heather Howard

For Further Information Contact:
Dawn Thomas
(609) 984-7160

Commissioner Howard Joins Sussex County Officials to Launch New Countywide Program to Help Residents Manage Chronic Diseases






LAFAYETTE – New Jersey Health and Senior Services Commissioner Heather Howard today congratulated Sussex County officials for launching a new countywide program that helps older residents better manage their chronic diseases.


The program, “Take Control of Your Health”, is a six-session, peer-led community workshop where participants learn strategies for managing symptoms, working with health care professionals, setting weekly goals, problem-solving, relaxing, eating right and exercising safely and easily.  The program was developed by Stanford University’s School of Medicine (where it is called the Chronic Disease Self-Management Program) and is recognized internationally as a premiere, evidence-based health promotion and disease prevention program.


 “Take Control of Your Health has helped people around the world – and will now help Sussex County residents – get more satisfaction out of life, despite having chronic medical conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, hearing problems and depression,” said Commissioner Howard while attending the Sussex County’s kickoff celebration at Farmstead Golf and Country Club, in Lafayette.


“Take Control of Your Health” workshops are held once a week for six weeks in community settings.  Individuals completing a master trainer program taught by Stanford staff are charged with recruiting, training and monitoring peer leaders who actually lead the classes.


The Sussex County Division of Senior Services took the lead in establishing the program locally, in partnership with NORWESCAP’s RSVP, Newton Memorial Hospital, and the State Departments of Health and Senior Services and Human Services, Division of Medical Assistance and Health Services (Medicaid).  In 2008, Sussex County received $10,000 in grant funding from the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services to expand infrastructure and to share its successful implementation model with others statewide.


“We are pleased to have taken a leadership role in bringing this evidence-based health promotion and disease prevention program to citizens in Sussex County,” said Stephen Gruchacz, Sussex County Human Services Administrator.  “Prevention is so important both in maintaining a high quality of life and reducing costs for health-related issues. The Division of Senior Services in collaboration with our community partners and State partners is to be commended.”


“Take Control of Your Health” has grown dramatically in New Jersey since 2006, when only one person was certified as a master trainer.  Today, New Jersey is home to 57 master trainers, 316 peer leaders have been recruited and 66 workshops have been held in 15 counties.  Through separate grants to agencies serving minority communities, the program can be presented in English, Spanish, Chinese and Korean.


Stanford University and Kaiser Permanente validated the benefits of “Take Control of Your Health” in 1996.  Researchers interviewed over 1,000 people with heart disease, lung disease, stroke or arthritis in a randomized, controlled test of the program and followed them for up to three years.  Compared to individuals who did not enroll, many CDSMP participants experienced major improvements in their overall health.  They reported improved ability to exercise, manage their symptoms, and talk with their healthcare professional.  Program participants also reported spending fewer days in the hospital.


More information on “Take Control of Your Health” can be found on the Division of Aging and Community Services’ web site at  To find a local workshop in Sussex County call the County Division of Senior Services at 973-579-0555, or email them at



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