Health Center News

Community Health Centers: On the Frontlines of Diabetes Care

Glaucometer for Measuring Blood SugarOne of the most important things to know about diabetes is that there are many people who have the disease and don’t know it.  If you don’t have the disease, chances are you know someone who does.  Community Health Centers are critical footsoldiers in the battle against this disease (see NACHC fact sheet on health centers and diabetes), which affects approximately 25.8 million people living in the U.S.  Six million patient visits to health centers last year  involved a patient with diabetes.  With November designated as  National Diabetes Month, this is a good time to encourage loved ones at risk to visit a local health center for early detection and treatment.  The disease can have devastating effect if left untreated.  People are more at risk for heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney disease, nerve damage, even premature death.  A family history of diabetes increases the risk for developing the disease.

Health centers  provide services that can prevent a lot of diabetes-related conditions, such as kidney damage, blindness and poor circulation.  They also try to improve patient outcomes with innovation and a team approach that helps patients manage their illness through lifestyle changes, nutrition and exercise.

A case in point is West Hawaii Community Health Center (WHCHC) in Kailua-Kona. The health center was recently awarded an “Innovations in Community Health” grant by CVS Caremark to expand their efforts to include in-home care coordination, group medical visits, and disease management classes. You can read more about WHCHC’s work in this CSRWire post by CVS Caremark.

Another approach by Fair Haven Community Health Center in Connecticut focuses on a family friendly method that includes a 12-week Intensive Lifestyle Intervention program.   Patients  participate in cooking demonstrations that use locally harvested produce, class discussions, and exercise classes. The health center has even created a children’s exercise class and weight management program.

Health centers’ whole health approach to prevention and wellness includes educating diabetic patients about healthy foods through cooking classes and hosting farmers’ markets (see previous blog post), to encourage healthy eating habits for the entire family.

For resources on diabetes control and prevention visit:

The National Diabetes Education Program

The American Diabetes Association

The National Diabetes Prevention Program