Sunday, December 31, 2017 12:00 AM

Community partnerships work to tackle diabetes crisis

With nearly half of the adults in Fresno County likely to get diabetes, Community Medical Centers recognizes that no single organization can reverse the epidemic – that’s why Community has joined a broad collaborative effort to attack the problem on several fronts.  By partnering with other hospitals, community groups, school districts and universities, Community aims to significantly improve the health status of the region.

Diabetes rates are highest in the Central Valley

Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to blindness, amputations and heart attacks. It’s considered one of the top health challenges for the region with the problem reaching crisis levels.

The Valley has more young adults (ages 18-39) with high blood sugar levels that qualify them as prediabetic than any other part of California, according to a 2016 study by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. And Fresno County has the second highest number of diabetes-related amputations in the state – 51 for every 100,000 residents in 2016. Medical expenses for those with diabetes average $7,900 higher a year than for people without diabetes, costing $27.6 billion a year for Californians.
Fresno County’s diabetes problem is made worse by the fact that:
  • 25% of residents live below the federal poverty rate
  • 27% of adults don’t have a high school diploma
  • There are only 170 doctors per 100,000 people – the lowest doctor-to-patient ratio in the state

Nearly a third of the county’s Medicare recipients have been diagnosed with diabetes.

Partnering is key to prevention efforts

Community heads the Fresno County Health Improvement Partnership’s (FCHIP) Diabetes Collaborative. Community’s Outreach Specialist Alma Martinez leads monthly meetings among healthcare and education professionals working to encourage healthy lifestyles that prevent diabetes and help those who already have diabetes get their disease under control.
Community also hosts the FCHIP web site which provides a list of free diabetes management classes, a quick quiz to help identify possible pre-diabetes and other resources.
More than 225 families in southeast Fresno learned more about how to reduce their risks of diabetes at a diabetes education health fair last November, sponsored by Community along with Every Neighborhood Partnership and Fresno County.

California Health Sciences University students and Fresno State’s Health on Wheels mobile clinic teamed up to provide blood sugar testing, blood pressure and cholesterol checks and body mass index estimates for neighborhood families. The fair also included food giveaways to those who live in areas where it’s difficult to find fresh, healthy, affordable food.
Erin Kennedy reported this story. Reach her at