According to the Centers for Disease Control, over 30 million people have diabetes. That’s one out of every ten, with one out of four undiagnosed.
More than 84 million people have pre-diabetes and 9 out of 10 people don’t know they have it. The risk of death for adults with diabetes is 50 percent higher than for adults without diabetes. Medical costs for people with diabetes are more than twice as high as for people without diabetes. Total medical costs and lost work and wages for those with diagnosed diabetes is $245 billion.
A report by the American Diabetes Association in 2007, stated that Diabetes cost Ohio $5.9 billion annually. This includes $3.9 billion in medical expenses and $2 billion in reduced state productivity and premature mortality. Total charges for Ohio hospital discharges with a primary diagnosis of diabetes was around $442 million.
Why is it so hard to change our lifestyle to help combat diabetes? Many of us have habits that we’ve been living with for many years. We don’t have a good support system at home. Our doctors don’t have or take the time to really explain this disease to us. We have the “it’s too late” mentality, therefore we don’t see any reason to change.
Now there is help. Thanks to the Appalachian Regional Commission POWER Grant, given to us by Marshall University and the Sisters Health Foundation, The Meigs County Health Department (MCHD) has hired me as a Community Health Workers (CHW).
My name is Laura Grueser, and I will be instrumental in bridging the gap between high risk diabetes patients and their care teams. I will be working primarily with patients from Holzer Clinic in Meigs County. Because this is a new program, I’ve been working diligently to build it, by researching other programs in West Virginia, Texas, New Mexico and Alaska.
Studies have shown that the number of emergency room visits, as well as A1C numbers have gone down significantly, by having a CHW on a care team. As a CHW, I will help patients with medicine reconciliation, make sure they document their blood glucose levels, daily and help teach them better ways to manage their blood sugar. I’ll also make sure patients make and keep important appointments with their care coordination team.
Leanne Cunningham, Director of Nursing, and I have taken the Stanford University Diabetes Self-Management Training and are now able to facilitate this teaching in the community. This six-week course teaches diabetics and their care givers how to set goals, make action plans, read food labels, deal with depression and several other lifestyle changes to help them on this journey.
November is National Diabetes Month and the MCHD is planning a full day of activities and informational speakers on Nov. 18. Please join us at in the Community Room at Farmers Bank (640 E. Main St. in Pomeroy) for a Community Open House from 9 a.m.- 3 p.m. We will share more information about this event at a later date.
We at the Meigs County Health Department are excited about this program and what it can do for our community. For more information about the program, please contact me at (740) 992-6626 ext. 1035.
Laura Grueser is a Community Health Worker with the Meigs County Health Department.