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Columbus Medicare Diabetes Screening Project Cited as Model for State by Lt. Governor Casey Cagle
Date:11/6/2008

Columbus Civic and Community Leaders Kick-off Statewide Initiative to Advance Diabetes Screening for Medicare Beneficiaries

COLUMBUS, Ga., Nov. 6 /PRNewswire/ -- Lt. Governor Casey Cagle today applauded the design and implementation of the Medicare Diabetes Screening Project (MDSP) in Columbus, citing it as a model for other cities in Georgia and around the country. He made his remarks at the Columbus Summit, a meeting hosted by the Columbus Research Foundation and the Columbus Medicare Diabetes Screening Project, designed to enlist other Georgia cities to adopt the innovative outreach effort in Columbus that has created a model for promoting diabetes screening for adults aged 65 and older.

"There is no greater health challenge in Georgia than the fight against diabetes," said Lt. Gov. Cagle. "The Columbus Medicare Diabetes Screening Project has developed an effective and powerful model for encouraging senior citizens to get screened and to work with their health care providers to prevent or better manage their diabetes. This model should be adopted by other Georgia cities to help our seniors win the fight against diabetes."

Since July 2007, leaders of the Columbus MDSP have conducted a variety of activities to increase awareness of the benefits Medicare offers to adults age 65 and older for free screening for diabetes. These leaders shared their strategies and accomplishments today with their counterparts from Albany, Augusta, Gainesville, Macon and Savannah, who had been invited to participate in this statewide launch of the MDSP.

Medicare beneficiaries at risk for diabetes are eligible for free, annual diabetes screenings from their health care provider. Although as many as 60% of Medicare beneficiaries are at risk for diabetes and should be screened, less than 10% of beneficiaries nationally used the free diabetes screening benefit in 2006, according to the most recently available data. In Georgia, just 6.8% of beneficiaries were screened in 2006.

The MDSP in Columbus has engaged citizens through a variety of awareness-raising and informational activities, including an event at the Columbus Civic Center, distribution of information in church newsletters, displays at shopping centers and health fairs, risk assessments at local fire stations, and advertisements on television and radio.

"A diverse group of public and private city leaders came together, worked hard, and delivered the message of free Medicare diabetes screening to the senior citizens of Columbus and health care providers," said Columbus Mayor Jim Wetherington, as he welcomed the assembled crowd. "Our work in Columbus can serve as a model for how you might implement the Project in your communities."

The Mayor was followed by Dr. William Rowley, the Chief Operating Officer and a Senior Futurist at the Institute for Alternative Futures, who made a compelling case for the potentially devastating impact of diabetes on America and Georgia in the coming decades, and why we need programs such as the Medicare Diabetes Screening Project to help stem the relentless tide of this disease.

Steven Leichter, MD, FACP, FACE, Medical Director of the Columbus Research Foundation, then explained the details of the benefits Medicare offers for diabetes screening, and why their use is vital to helping identify older adults with undiagnosed diabetes or pre-diabetes. "It's critical that we get more of our seniors to use their free Medicare screening benefits," said Dr. Leichter, "so that we can help find those who have diabetes or pre-diabetes but don't know it. Screening and diagnosis is the essential first step to prevent diabetes for those at risk or to better manage diabetes for those who may already have the disease."

After watching a new video about the Columbus MDSP, participants at the Columbus Summit witnessed a lively panel discussion that included the perspectives of four local Columbus leaders who have worked with MDSP: Renee Adamson, Region 3 President, Georgia Pharmacy Association; the Rev. Dr. Johnny Flakes, 4th Street Missionary Baptist Church; Mike Gaymon, President, Columbus Chamber of Commerce; and Jeff Meyer, Chief of the Columbus Department of Fire and Emergency Services.

Later in the forum the assembled community leaders from Albany, Augusta, Gainesville, Macon and Savannah joined with their counterparts from Columbus in small group work sessions, where they asked questions, brainstormed ideas for activities, and planned how they might implement the MDSP in their communities. At the end of the day, Lt. Governor Cagle gave the charge to participants to take what they had learned and work to promote diabetes screening for Medicare-aged residents of their own cities.

The Medicare Diabetes Screening Project in Columbus is a community-based effort to reach and motivate the estimated 12,000 seniors who have undiagnosed diabetes or pre-diabetes to see their doctors and take advantage of the free diabetes screening benefits offered by Medicare. Locally in Columbus, efforts have been led by the Columbus Research Foundation. On a national basis, the MDSP is co-chaired by the American Diabetes Association, the Healthcare Leadership Council, and Novo Nordisk Inc., and includes more than 20 organizations representing patients, health care providers, older adults, businesses and government. It is the first and only program designed to increase awareness and promote use of the largely unused, free screening benefits that Medicare offers for diabetes and pre-diabetes. Information is available at http://www.screenfordiabetes.org.


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SOURCE Novo Nordisk Inc.
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