Defeating Diabetes: Grant Provides Funding for Management Program

Recent Grant Provides Initial Funding for Diabetes Management Program at South Phoenix Clinic

In Arizona alone, more than 631,000 adults are living with diabetes and one in every three adults is completely unaware they have prediabetes, a condition in which your body does not properly respond to insulin resulting in higher than normal blood sugar. Over time, having too much glucose in your blood can cause health problems, such as heart disease, nerve damage, eye problems and kidney disease.

Mission of Mercy is at the front lines of this battle. Approximately 90% of the patients who visit a Mission of Mercy clinic have one or more chronic condition with the top three conditions being hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol. MOM patients have a prevalence rate of diabetes of 54% – more than four times higher than the statewide average of 10.8%.

MOM’s Diabetes Management Program Tackles Root Causes

For the past five years, MOM has been operating a diabetes program within clinics that are funded through competitive grant applications. For the first time, MOM’s South Phoenix clinic – which recently celebrated its one-year anniversary at NPHX Church South Campus – received funding from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona Foundation (BCBSAZ) to address this growing problem and improve the health and well-being of uninsured patients with diabetes.

Uninsured diabetes patients make 168% more emergency department visits than those patients who have insurance, which places a heavy strain on our healthcare system and drives up costs for everyone. MOM’s diabetes management program gives patients the tools they need to succeed, thereby keeping them out of emergency departments and improving their overall quality of life.

The BCBSAZ funding for the South Phoenix clinic helps patients with diabetes by supporting six clinic visits per year, per patient to track blood pressure and HbA1c levels (a critical measurement for diabetic patients), along with providing individual and small group diabetes education sessions, nutrition counseling and access to fresh produce, and prescription medications. The grant also provides funding support for onsite HbA1c testing, which helps MOM clinicians more effectively assess patients’ progress and manage their care in a timely fashion.

“We are building a network of support for our patients with many needs, which gives them the knowledge and confidence to make positive lifestyle changes that will improve their health outcomes. We have the opportunity to share in both their successes and challenges,” said Cecilia R. Chapman, RDN, CDCES (bilingual Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist). “We celebrate every success, no matter how small. And if numbers aren’t heading in the right direction, I am able to counsel patients individually to identify needed changes. These can be as simple as cutting soda out of their diet or taking a walk 2-3 times weekly. And we build on their small victories every visit, so they don’t feel overwhelmed.”

Increasing Patient Compliance

The diabetes management program in South Phoenix will also include giving patients access to fresh, healthy food  via pre-packaged produce distributions during the grant period. Patients will receive nutritional information and healthy recipes to demonstrate how they can incorporate fresh produce into their daily diet.

“Compliance is the key to improving one’s health when faced with diabetes, and it’s the hardest thing to do,” Dr. Smith said. “While prescription medications are a vital part of the equation, diet and exercise play a big role in a diabetic patient’s treatment plan. With a Certified Diabetes Educator on our team, we are seeing patients be more accountable for their role in leading a healthier lifestyle.”

Ultimately, the goals of this program are to improve patient outcomes and expand the program to all of MOM’s clinic locations. But in order to do that, additional funding is needed to expand capacity. Currently, Dignity Health supports the diabetes program at MOM’s Chandler clinic, and BHHS Legacy Foundation funds the North Phoenix clinic. Opportunities are available for funding support in Mesa, Avondale and Maryvale.

“We’re always seeking funders who have a passion for community healthcare and are committed to making tangible improvements in the lives of those less fortunate,” said MOM Executive Director Paula Carvalho. “We greatly appreciate the generous partners that have stepped up to provide necessary funding so our patients don’t walk alone in their battle with diabetes.”

Sources: Arizona Department of Health Services, American Diabetes Association