Knocking Out Diabetes in the Delta
For Marvin Davis, the phone call he received last February probably saved his life.
“I was just fortunate she called when she did. If I hadn’t had her, I could be dead,” said the 55-year-old Leland resident.
Davis was referring to Camilla Potts, a pre-diabetes care coordinator with the Delta Medicaid Pre-Diabetes Program, which serves as both a support mechanism and a link to resources that assist with healthy diets, physical activity and developing an effective partnership between patient and doctor for those with pre-diabetes or at risk for developing the disease.
Through a network of electronic health records established in Delta clinics by the Delta Health Alliance, Davis was found to be a good candidate for the program. After Potts called him last February to join the program, it was discovered that Davis had already developed diabetes. He began medication and joined Potts’ program.
Davis and a pilot group of participants began meeting once a week for six weeks in a chronic disease management class that explained the ways to care for their disease outside of the doctor’s office. The class emphasized the importance of closely monitoring blood sugar and cholesterol levels, blood pressure and body mass indices.
“We coach them and help them to stay on track,” said Potts. “The point of the program is to make sure people like Mr. Davis don’t fall through the cracks and to make sure they know that staying healthy and treating the disease is a team effort with their doctors.”
For Davis, the results so far have been significant. His blood sugar levels have dropped dramatically and he’s made equally dramatic lifestyle changes.
“It’s got me feeling better,” he said. “I’ve lost like fifty pounds. Before all this, I was feeling tired and was out of breath. I couldn’t even tie my shoes. Now I walk 7 or 8 miles every morning.”
Davis has also modified his diet, substituting fruits and vegetables for his high pork diet. “Oh I still sneak a piece now and then, but I’m doing enough now where it’s not going to kill me.”
Education is a critical component to treating diabetes. Patients must first have time to understand what the disease process is and what it does to the body. Better communication translates into improved care and greater results.
Many of the new programs and practices that have been implemented to treat diabetes in the Delta arose from a program administered by the Delta Health Alliance several years ago called the Delta Blues Diabetes Learning Collaborative. Through a series of learning sessions over nine months, Delta physicians and their care teams came together to identify the best practices and solutions for providing quality care.
At the end of the Delta Medicaid Pre-Diabetes Program, participants receive a $25 gift card for their efforts to stay healthy, said Botts. The pilot program of which Davis was a part has now expanded to 68 participants in five Delta counties. Davis and Potts are confident in the difference its making in people’s lives.
“Even though the class is over, we still talk on a weekly basis,” said Potts. “It’s important to keep that contact and let them know that I’m here for them.”
Davis agreed: “She calls and asks me like six questions dealing with diet, how I’m feeling and if I’m staying on track and doing what I’m supposed to do. It really helps me. I’m very grateful for this.”