In partnership with the YMCA of Greater Charlotte, Carolinas HealthCare System aims to identify and treat 10,000 people who have diabetes or are at risk for diabetes and get them treated within the next year.
Officials of the two organizations announced their project Thursday, calling diabetes and pre-diabetes a huge public health issue. They are calling their yearlong project Pre-D Challenge: Reverse the Risk.
Doctors with Carolinas HealthCare treat more people with diabetes about 100,000 than any other health system in the Carolinas, said CEO Michael Tarwater.
While were experts at helping diabetics manage their condition, what we really want is to help people who are headed toward diabetes change course, so they never even get there, he said.
Pre-diabetic is the medical term for being at high risk for developing diabetes. People with this condition score between 5.7 to 6.4 on a test called hemoglobin A1c, a measure of the effectiveness of blood glucose control. Those with diabetes score above 6.4, said Dr. Zeev Neuwirth, chief clinical executive of the systems medical group.
Progression from pre-diabetes to full-blown diabetes can be halted and even reversed with proper nutrition, exercise and health care, Neuwirth said.
The goal for the project is to have 50,000 people get assessed for their diabetes risk using an online tool or the hospitals TeleHealth phone number. Neuwirth said that will probably identify about 10,000 people who have the disease or are at high risk.
Those with pre-diabetes will be referred to a 16-week diabetes prevention program, at a cost of about $30. Neuwirth said research has documented that it works. The majority of participants will actually halt the progression of pre-diabetes and sometimes eliminate it, he said.
Those with diabetes will be referred to their primary care doctors. If they are uninsured or dont have a doctor, we will make sure they get seen by a physician and their diabetes gets treated, Neuwirth said. The Carolinas HealthCare clinics offer treatment on a sliding scale based on a patients income.
A diagnosis of diabetes is not immediately dangerous, and people dont have to be sent to the emergency room, Neuwirth said. But the disease slowly damages the kidneys, blood vessels and eyes. So its good to catch it early and manage it so it doesnt get worse.
We want to save people, he said. We want to save their eyes. We want to save their kidneys.
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