A nearly $20,000 grant from the Verizon Foundation has enabled the College to expand a program that teaches diabetic patients how to better manage their disease.
The College’s Diabetes Self-Management Education Program is now offered at the Sumter County Health Center in York, Ala., and will soon be offered at the Rush Clinic in Livingston, Ala. The program will consist of three classes a month, with each class lasting three hours. The program will be held at the Sumter County Health Center in January, March and May and at the Rush Clinic in February and April.
The Diabetes Self-Management Education Program is currently offered at University Medical Center, a multi-specialty health clinic operated by the College and located on The University of Alabama campus. The diabetes education program earned national recognition from the American Diabetes Association in 2012 for providing high-quality education services to patients.
The ADA Education Recognition effort is a voluntary process that assures that approved programs have met the national standards for diabetes self-management education programs. Programs that achieve Education Recognition status have a staff of knowledgeable health professionals who provide state-of-the-art information about diabetes management to participants.
“Our staff works diligently every day to provide the best education possible to our patients,” says Angela Hammond, CRNP, CDE, a nurse practitioner at University Medical Center who teaches in the program and who works with the center’s diabetic patients.
Patients in York and Livingston will be recruited into the program through referrals from area physicians who treat Medicaid patients. Initially, the program will be open only to Medicaid recipients.
Self-management education is an essential component of diabetes treatment, according to the American Diabetes Association. Patients in ADA-recognized and similar programs are taught self-care skills that promote better management of diabetes treatment regimens. With increased knowledge, patients can assume a major part of the responsibility for their diabetes management and possibly prevent some of the acute and chronic complications of diabetes.
The Diabetes Self-Management Education Program will be provided to the Sumter County Health Center and the Rush Clinic via the College’s telehealth equipment. Telehealth is a rapidly developing application of clinical medicine where information is transferred through interactive audiovisual media for the purposes of consulting and conducting remote medical examinations or providing health education to patients. For rural populations that are geographically isolated, and for rural patients who are physically or financially unable to travel long distances, telehealth can improve access to care. The Sumter County Health Center and the Rush Clinic are both located in rural areas.
Diabetes is the sixth leading cause of death for Alabamians, according to the American Diabetes Association. Diabetes-related deaths in rural Alabama are as much as 18 percent higher than in the state’s urban areas, and are as much as 44 percent higher than diabetes-related deaths in the United States, the ADA says.
Nationwide, there are 25.8 million people, or 8.5 percent of the U.S. population, who have diabetes, according to the ADA. The association says diabetes contributed to 231,404 deaths in 2007, making it the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. Each day, approximately 5,205 people are diagnosed with diabetes and many will first learn that they have the disease when they are treated for one of its life-threatening complications – heart disease and stroke, kidney disease, blindness and amputation, according to the ADA.
Americans spend more than $2.6 trillion on health care each year, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and studies show that 45 percent of the entire population (133 million Americans) lives with at least one chronic disease. The National Vital Statistics Reports 2008 data shows that seven out of 10 deaths in the United States are attributed to chronic disease, many of which are preventable. In addition, seventy-five cents of every health care dollar is spent on chronic disease, studies show, and the impact of chronic disease on underserved populations accounts for almost 40 cents of that spent.
“The Verizon Foundation is pleased to partner with The University of Alabama College of Community Health Sciences to help chronic patients better manage their diabetes,” says Jonathan LeCompte, president of the Georgia/Alabama region for Verizon Wireless. “We firmly believe that utilizing technology and resources like this program will help address a rapidly growing epidemic, and we applaud The University of Alabama for leading the way.”
The Verizon Foundation is focused on accelerating social change by using the company’s innovative technology to help solve pressing problems in education, health care and energy management. Since 2000, the Verizon Foundation has invested more than half a billion dollars to improve the communities where Verizon employees work and live. Verizon’s employees are generous with their donations and their time, having logged more than 6.2 million hours of service to make a positive difference in their communities. For more information about Verizon’s philanthropic work, visit www.verizonfoundation.org.