Julia Roberts Goad
WILLIAMSON - Mingo County has one of the highest rates of diabetes in West Virginia, third of any county in the state’s 55 counties, after McDowell and Logan Counties.
The prevalence of diabetes in Mingo County is 13.7 percent, directly affecting approximately 1680 residents, as compared with 10.8 percent statewide and 8.6 percent nationally. The adult obesity rate in Mingo County, was 35.3 percent in 2007
The high rate of diabetes in the county led Marshall University to ask the Mingo County Diabetes Coalition to join in applying for a $9.7 million dollar grant. The grant funded a project titled “From clinic to community: Achieving health equity in the Southeastern United States.”
The Mingo County Diabetes Coalition (MCDC) will receive $2.2 million of that grant, to be used over the next three years in the county.
Duke University, in conjunction with Marshall, the University of Michigan, the Durham County, N.C. Health Department, the Mississippi Public Health Institute and other organizations in those states, received the grant for its plan to reduce death and disability from Type 2 diabetes among 57,000 people underserved and at-risk populations in the Southeast.
“Diabetes is a devastating problem, but is especially far-reaching in the Southeastern region of the United States,” project leader Robert M. Califf, M.D., vice chancellor for clinical research at Duke, said in a statement. “Previous approaches have not been able to stem the tide. Changing the course of the diabetes epidemic requires a radically new approach.”
“Our program focuses on uncontrolled diabetes prevention,” Vicki Hatfield, Certified Diabetes Educator and Family Nurse Practitioner with MCDC. “We will be helping to develop a model of care for the government to use to save money on health care.”
Local home care teams will provide patient-centered coordinated care to improve outcomes for patients with Type 2 diabetes, and lower cost — expecting to reduce hospital and emergency room admissions and reduce through preventive care the need for amputations, dialysis, and cardiac procedures.
The estimated cost savings is expected to be $20.8 million.
Hatfield said the MCDC will work with Williamson Memorial Hospital and the Williamson Health and Wellness Center to identify patients who may need an intervention with their health care.
“We will be doing home visits, promoting more healthy lifestyles, smoking cessation and other factors affecting their health,” Hatfield said. “We will also be mapping the county for areas with a high concentration of diabetes, where health care facilities are, exercise facilities, access to healthy food or a lot of fast food restaurants - things that might affect the prevalence of diabetes in an area.”
Hatfield said many times diabetes patients lack resources, such as transportation to doctor’s offices, access to healthy food and money for diabetes medications and testing supplies.
“We will be able to arrange for resources for these patients,” she said. “We can help them identify resources for education and supplies.”
The MCDC hopes to begin the program in January 2013. All services will be totally funded by the grant and offered at no cost to patients. All the information gathered will be completely anonymous and confidential.
“Appalachian people are stereotyped as uneducated,” Hatfield said. “But when we become educated, we become mini-experts, we want to share what we have learned. Appalachian people are proud, and knowledge is power.”