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New Diabetes Treatment Program Improves Health of Diabetes Patients and Their Families

A unique healthcare partnership of NorthShore University HealthSystem and the Lake County Health Department targets underserved communities in North Chicago that are in need of diabetes treatment. The initiative will give assistance and education to several hundred people who cannot afford treatment.

Evanston, IL (PRWeb) July 7, 2010 -- NorthShore University HealthSystem (NorthShore) and the Lake County Health Department and Community Health Center (LCHD/CHC) have developed a comprehensive diabetes treatment and education program for those who suffer from the disease and cannot afford to pay for healthcare.

Diabetes is one of our nation’s fastest growing health threats, affecting the lives of 23 million children and adults. If unmanaged, this deadly disease can lead to heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney failure and amputations. In Lake County, Illinois, more than seven percent of the adult population are confirmed diabetics.

To address this rising epidemic, NorthShore and LCHD/CHC developed Be Well-Lake County, a transformational, coordinated, diabetes treatment program that is designed to address this chronic health problem in low income communities.

“In the current economic climate, it became clear that now more than ever we need to take aggressive action to help assist diabetic patients and their families in our area with access to quality healthcare,” said Mark R. Neaman, President and CEO, NorthShore University HealthSystem. “We are very pleased with the initial success of this unique program in the region.”

The one-year-old comprehensive program started in North Chicago, where it will provide several hundred patients with diabetes treatment via access to a broad range of individualized care and personalized services to help them adapt their lifestyle to reduce the risks of diabetes.

“Communities like North Chicago face numerous health challenges – little access to healthy foods, inadequate access to healthcare, lack of nutrition education and unsafe areas that discourage outdoor physical activity,” said Irene T. Pierce, MSN, Executive Director of the Lake County Health Department and Community Health Center. “Residents can truly benefit from this kind of ground-breaking collaborative initiative that relies on the strengths of both NorthShore and the Lake County Health Department to address the growing incidence of diabetes and obesity.”

Be Well serves the community with a bi-lingual diabetes treatment program to meet the needs of the ethnically diverse population in North Chicago. It provides a continuum of care that addresses individual patient needs and impacts the lifestyle of their families, creating new health habits that will help avoid the generational recurrence of diabetes in their children and extended families.

The fully integrated diabetes treatment program offers patients consistent comprehensive NorthShore and LCHD/CHC physician visits, medication and testing supply assistance, self-management education, an exercise program, peer support, and nutrition support including a newly-launched onsite community garden at the North Chicago Community Health Center. A demonstration kitchen is also planned to expand the nutrition education program.

In its pilot year, Be Well-Lake County enrolled over 325 patients into its diabetes treatment program, providing more than 500 primary care physician visits and 230 individual medical nutrition therapy sessions.

“For most patients, this is the first time they’re experiencing the personalized, high quality healthcare they need to change their lives,” said Madeleine Shalowitz, MD, MBA, NorthShore University HealthSystem physician and Be Well-Lake County Program Evaluator. “Not only are the patients benefitting significantly from the program, but we’re also seeing members of their families becoming more active and living healthier lifestyles.”

Patients also receive access to top quality specialists in cardiology, endocrinology, ophthalmology, and nephrology to address the serious complications of diabetes.

Funding for the program is provided by the NorthShore University HealthSystem Foundation and the NorthShore Auxiliary at Highland Park Hospital.

As Be Well develops, there will be rigorous data collection and evaluation to assess the program and share its impact with health providers in other low income communities. The data collected will help revolutionize diabetes care in a community setting and further research on how to adapt that care across multicultural audiences.

About NorthShore University HealthSystem
Headquartered in Evanston, NorthShore University HealthSystem is a comprehensive, fully integrated, healthcare delivery system that serves the Chicago region. The system includes four hospitals in Evanston, Glenview (Glenbrook Hospital), Highland Park and Skokie. NorthShore employs approximately 9,000 and has 2,400 affiliated physicians, including a 650-physician, multispecialty physician group practice with 75 office locations. Further, NorthShore supports teaching and research as the principal teaching affiliate for the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine.

The NorthShore Research Institute focuses on clinical and translational research, including leadership in outcomes research and clinical trials. The NorthShore University HealthSystem Foundation is a leading philanthropic entity of NorthShore. It raises charitable contributions, engages volunteer friends and invests in community partnerships.

NorthShore has significant capabilities in a wide spectrum of clinical programs, including cancer, heart, orthopedics, high-risk maternity, pediatrics and neurosciences. NorthShore is a Magnet recognized organization, the only one in Illinois designated as a system to receive this prestigious honor that demonstrates excellence in nursing and high standards in patient care. NorthShore is a national leader in the implementation of innovative technologies, including electronic medical records (EMR). In 2003, NorthShore was among the first in the country to successfully launch a system-wide EMR with demonstrable benefits in quality, safety, efficiency and service to patients. NorthShore has been recognized by multiple national organizations for this notable achievement.

About Lake County Health Department/Community Health Center

The Lake County Health Department and Community Health Center offers a broad spectrum of programs, including personal medical and dental services directed at individuals and families of all races, genders, and ages who are unable to access care through the private sector. Care is provided regardless of the patient’s ability to pay. As a result of the economic downturn, LCHD/CHC has seen a surge in recently unemployed and uninsured patients.

The LCHD/CHC has six health center sites located in the low-income communities of Waukegan, North Chicago, Zion, Round Lake Beach, and Highland Park/Highwood.

The communities served by the LCHD/CHC have a higher percentage of those living below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level, higher unemployment rates, more residents that receive Medicaid or are uninsured, and a higher percentage of households where English is not a primary language, in comparison to other Lake County communities. In 2008, the LCHD/CHC provided 138,965 medical visits to 46,619 patients. Of these medical patients, 15,412 were uninsured; equating to 33% of the total medical patients served.

LCHD/CHC serves approximately 2,240 adult type 2 diabetic patients, through its diabetes treatment program, across its 6 locations.


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