November is American Diabetes Month, a time to focus national attention on the issues surrounding diabetes and the many millions of people who are impacted by this widespread disease. Sponsored in large part by the American Diabetes Association, November is a time for communities to come together and focus on initiatives to promote better diabetes prevention, care, and management. To get a sense of how prevalent diabetes is within the U.S., recent statistics from the American Diabetes Association reveal that nearly 30 million children and adults in the U.S. have diabetes, while another 86 million Americans have prediabetes and are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes in the future. Moreover, the American Diabetes Association estimates that the total national cost of diagnosed diabetes in the U.S. is a staggering $245 billion.
In Colorado, Community Health Centers (CHCs) are crucial medical, dental, and behavioral health access points for over 650,000 Coloradans. CHCs provide primary care services, education, resources, and support necessary for establishing optimal chronic disease management practices among patients living with diabetes. Statewide, there were over 34,000 patients who received care for diabetes at CHCs in 2014 – nearly 7% of all CHC patients (based on Uniform Data System, UDS, reporting for 2014).
Due to the fact that ongoing quality improvement initiatives are of paramount importance to the CHC mission, and on top of that a requirement for Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH) designation, CHCs have made an ongoing priority to reduce the number of patients with uncontrolled diabetes (defined by the Health Resources and Service Administration, HRSA, as having hbA1c levels greater than 9%). Based on the 2014 UDS statewide data report, 67.4% of diabetes patients receiving care at CHCs have controlled (hbA1c <= 9%) diabetes. The Department of Health and Human Services (HSS) has set a goal for this measure in their Healthy People 2020 initiative that, by 2020, 83.9% of patients receiving care for diabetes in the U.S. will have controlled hbA1c levels, which Colorado CHCs will continue working hard to meet.
Additionally, CHCs are actively involved in diabetes prevention by promoting healthy lifestyles through education, outreach, and incentive programs within their communities. Examples of CHCs creating opportunities for patients and their community to develop healthy habits:
- Mountain Family Health Centers installed a permanent Weigh and Win kiosk at their Glenwood Springs location. This kiosk is available for public participation.
- High Plains Community Health Center (HPCHC) educates a weight management support group leading a year-long diabetes prevention program, named Get Lean Lamar. Additionally HPCHC hosts healthful events such as Silver Sneaker Senior and Fit Family Challenge.
- River Valley Health Center promotes healthful classes on cooking, weight loss, and C.A.L.M. (Coping with Anxiety and Learning Mindfulness). Instructors teach wholesome cooking techniques, stress reduction, and inspired living.
Are you interested in a mission driven career that helps make a difference in patients’ lives? Check out the Mission Driven Careers Job Board or the CHAMPS Job Opportunity Bank for more information about rewarding careers with a Colorado CHC. To learn more about Colorado’s CHCs and other great work they are doing, visit CCHN’s website.