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$3 million grant to target diabetes

mcneir | 12/14/2011, 7:30 a.m.

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Health centers focus on increasing care for uninsured

The GE (General Electric) Foundation has partnered with the Health Care Network of Florida (HCNFL) and its seven participating health centers and recently announced the rewarding of a $3 million grant that will help Miami-Dade Countys (M-DC) men, women and children who struggle with chronic diabetes and are uninsured. The announcement was made in Liberty City at the Jessie Trice Corporate and Community Health Complex, a member of the HCNFL and a beneficiary of the grant. The GE Foundation has a long history of helping underserved communities, like Miami where the number of people living with diabetes exceeds the national average, said Jeff Immelt, CEO and chairman, GE. With this grant, were proud to break down the barriers to cost, quality and access so we can reduce the suffering of families dealing with this chronic and too often debilitating disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 11.4 percent of M-DC adults are living with diabetes, compared to 8.3 percent in the U.S. The County leads the state of Florida with the highest number of uninsured people and second highest percentage over 600,000 and 30.2 percent, according to recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Dr. Deborah George, Community Health of South Florida, says the impact of the grant will be felt immediately. There is no doubt that as we are now able to expand our programs, that they will bring health and hope to thousands of patients living with diabetes, she said. We have some 1,500 patients alone at Jessie Trice facing the challenges of diabetes but the numbers in the county are around 10,000. Its essential that we find ways to provide direct care to these patients, many of whom have no medical insurance. Dr. Edwin Boso-Osorio said that those with chronic diabetes must be careful to monitor their health and have periodic check-ups to avoid serious complications, including death. Diabetes often leads to eye and vascular diseases and we see many adults that require amputations if they dont see a physician regularly, he said. Some say diabetes is a Black disease and while the data doesnt support that view, we do see that Type II diabetes runs in families and is therefore related to genetics. It also tends to manifest itself in those who are obese.

The cost of care continues to soar

The financial and human cost of chronic diseases continues to rise. According to the CDC, chronic diseases account for $3 of every $4 spent on healthcare, reaching close to $7,900 for every U.S. citizen with a chronic disease. Chronic diseases are the cause of seven out of 10 deaths. The grant will enable HCNFL to provide a centralized model staffed with medical professionals who will assist the centers providing efficient care management services that will decrease costly hospitalizations and emergency room visits. Not only will the funding add new jobs but it will leverage existing data and electric medical records so that patients and their care needs can be more closely monitored. Preventive care, total care and improved standards of medical care thats what Jessie Trice and our other six partners have been offering to the communities we represent, George said. We are here for the insured, the underinsured and uninsured. Health care reform is on everyones minds these days. Grants like this from GE Foundation significantly help us keep our people healthy. The other federally-qualified health centers participating in the Care Management Medical Home Center are Borinquen Medical Centers of Miami Dade, Camillus Health Concern, Citrus Health Network, Community Health of South Florida, Helen B. Bentley Family Health Center and Miami Beach Community Health Center. By D. Kevin McNeirkmcneir@miamitimesonline.com