The Volunteers in Medicine Clinic of the Cascades (VIM), located in Central Oregon, has kick-started a groundbreaking endeavor designed to arm 21 low-income diabetes patients with comprehensive support and treatment.
The aim is to produce significant improvements in health outcomes for these patients whilst averting major diabetes-related issues such as the need for dialysis, limb amputations, or loss of sight.
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Let me tell you, this initiative owes its birth to a generous contribution by the Coverys Community Healthcare Foundation, Inc. (CCHF).
Leveraging Technology and Cultural Sensitivity
Volunteers in Medicine’s program employs culturally aware healthcare practices and modern technological devices for continuous glucose monitoring.
These devices, like patches, are fixed on the patients’ arms and relay real-time blood sugar readings directly to the patients’ mobile devices and the clinic.
Can you believe that in its testing phase last year, this program witnessed an incredible control rate of 86.8% in diabetes patients? This figure far surpasses the region’s healthcare target of just 72.5%.
With the influx of new funding, Volunteers in Medicine is in a position to expand the program to offer proactive diabetes management for low-income patients who would otherwise be unable to access the services. As put by Kat Mastrangelo, the clinic’s executive director,
“We are ensuring equitable healthcare access at Volunteers in Medicine, thanks to the tireless efforts of our volunteer doctors and nurses, along with our free specialist network.”
Leading Trendsetter in Low-Income Diabetes Management
VIM’s program is setting a national example of efficient treatment for the low-income population, a fact reflected in the charitable grant from the Coverys Community Healthcare Foundation, Inc. Meg Bronneck, executive director, CCHF, praised Volunteers in Medicine’s commendable accomplishment of achieving consistently high-quality health outcomes through culturally sensitive support for low-income patients.
You might be surprised to know that over 90% of Volunteers in Medicine’s patients are Latinx community members without health insurance.
To ensure they feel comfortable and understood, Volunteers in Medicine gives them access to bilingual and bicultural services, such as a Diabetes RN Care Coordinator, counselors, and diabetes educators.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, this approach proved invaluable as none of the roughly 800 patients of Volunteers in Medicine needed ICU admission or faced death.
The patients were educated on vital aspects of diabetes management, which includes maintaining a good diet and regular exercise. This education, coupled with continuous glucose monitoring, produced stellar results in the pilot program.
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Comprehensive Diabetes Services
Kimberly Rojas Drew, Volunteers in Medicine’s Diabetes RN Care Coordinator shared,
“We are proactive in reaching out to the patients to check their progress and provide follow-up on education sessions. To facilitate their commute to the clinic for treatments, we are also planning to fund gas cards for them.”
With a broad-spectrum approach, the program’s goal is to bring blood sugar levels under control within six to 12 months for at least 60%-70% of the patients with uncontrolled diabetes.
The program is also planning to introduce diabetes education workshops coupled with food gift cards, fun activities for children, movement exercises, and engagement of entire families for better health outcomes.
Volunteers in Medicine’s Role in the Community
Mastrangelo expressed how they empathize with their patients who juggle multiple jobs, family responsibilities, and health concerns.
“Our mission as the region’s charitable clinic is to partner in their health journey and strive for equitable health outcomes in our community. We’ve been doing this for almost 20 years, and we’re thankful for the new funding that lets us set higher standards of care for low-income families in Central Oregon.”
About Medical Volunteers The Cascade Clinic
The Volunteers in Medicine Clinic of the Cascades has been providing healthcare services for nearly 20 years to uninsured, underprivileged working adults in Central Oregon.
Capitalizing on the power of collaboration, over 200 in-clinic volunteers and 300 local medical partners join forces to provide patients with primary care, specialty medical care, prescription medications, and mental health care.
Patient costs are covered by donations and funding from local and regional individual, corporate and foundation supporters. Impressively, every $1 raised provides $3.82 worth of services, translating to over $150 million worth of care since Volunteers in Medicine’s establishment.
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About Coverys Community Healthcare Foundation, Inc.
The Coverys Community Healthcare Foundation, Inc. directs its resources towards grant funding and donations to institutions and innovative programs focused on improving patient care and safety, promoting healthy lifestyles, and aiding individuals and organizations offering healthcare services.
The foundation is a testament to Coverys’ commitment to active participation in enhancing healthcare communities where it operates.