Removing barriers for diabetes patients

Partnerships between Salem Health and local health resources change the course of a woman’s life.

When Christina was admitted to Salem Health for the third time in one month with complications related to diabetes, she had little hope for a healthy life. Her diabetes was out of control; she was losing her eyesight and her kidneys were beginning to fail.

Christina had no insurance and no doctor. The insulin and other medications she needed cost more than she earned. Much of the information she could get about her illness was not in her native language.

She began to get some answers, though, as Salem Health launched the Diabetes CARE Collaborative. This new community care program aims to reduce the prevalence of obesity and diabetes in areas served by Salem Health. Those regions reported that 3 percent of all deaths within their borders had been caused by diabetes. Christina became one of the first patients helped by the collaborative.

The Diabetes CARE Collaborative helps patients like Christina by working with a network of community partners that share Salem Health’s commitment to prevent and control diabetes. All the partners work together to improve the lives of people who have diabetes through education, awareness and advocacy. Three priorities are:

  1. Ensure that people seeking health services are provided with quality diabetes care.
  2. Connect people living with diabetes with self-management resources.
  3. Make sure that people in Marion and Polk counties have access to healthy food and a community that supports and encourages active lifestyles.

Salem Free Clinic provided Christina’s primary care and helped her access specialty endocrine services through their network of providers. A Salem Health Foundation-funded medication assistance program ensured that she had the medicine she needed. The Diabetes CARE Collaborative provided diabetes education in a language Christina could understand, coupled with culture-appropriate support.

Christina’s health improved dramatically within 90 days of her first visit with her diabetes community case manager. She will soon have cataract surgery and her kidney failure is slowing down. More importantly, she hasn’t been readmitted to the hospital since enrolling in the program.

The collaborative is co-chaired by Salem Health’s diabetes community case manager and a nurse from Northwest Human Services, a regional, federally funded community health center. Other partners include the Salem Free Medical Clinic, American Diabetes Association, Salem Clinic, Willamette Valley Partners Health Authority, the YMCA, Yakima Valley Farm Worker’s Clinic, Legacy Health and the Marion County Health Department.