Supporting Innovative Diabetes Care in New Jersey

Zufall health center 2In honor of National Diabetes Awareness Month, Direct Relief is highlighting its health center partner, Zufall Health Center (ZHC) in Dover, N.J. for their innovative approach to diabetes care.

Zufall recently received a $100,000 award as one of this year’s BD Helping Build Healthy Communities award recipients. The program is a multi-year initiative, funded by health care company, BD, and implemented together with Direct Relief, to provide grant awards to health centers that are delivering innovative models for specific areas of care.

According to the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), 12 percent of the total patients served by Federally Qualified Health Centers in 2012 were diabetic patients. Because of this need, BD has partnered with Direct Relief and the National Association of Community Health Centers to better support health centers, like Zufall, in providing care for patients with diabetes through both a syringe donation program and cash awards.

Established in 1990, Zufall’s patients are among the most vulnerable in the state. According to ZHC, their “patients are subject to the acute and chronic health conditions associated with poverty, low literacy, lack of access to fresh food and cooking facilities, language and cultural barriers, and limited access to medical specialty, diagnostic, and medication resources.”

Of their patient population, 65 percent are overweight or obese and more than 40 percent of their patient population have been diagnosed with diabetes, hypertension, or other chronic diseases that are risk factors for diabetes. These patients are often challenged in both understanding their disease and managing their condition.

ZHC has developed the Clinical Pharmacy Services and Education Program to provide patients with the tools for successful self-management of their disease, resulting in improved health outcomes. They do this through one-on-one patient visits with a bilingual, culturally competent Clinical Pharmacist.

During these visits the Clinical Pharmacist reviews the patient’s medications; helps to identify the patient’s unique needs and barriers; and provides them with language appropriate education on lifestyle changes, side-effects, proper use of medication, and disease state. The patient’s personal attitudes, knowledge and cultural beliefs on diabetes, as well as the literacy level, cultural and socioeconomic factors identified are all integrated into appropriate tools and education designed to assist the patient in gaining confidence toward their own self-care.

As a result of this program ZHC has experienced positive improvements in overall health outcomes, including improved patients’ understanding of their conditions and how to self-manage. There has also been an improved rate of patients’ follow through on recommended screenings, such as eye and foot exams, as well as immunizations.

Direct Relief is privileged to support health centers like Zufall that are providing critical health care and support services that are making a difference in the nation’s most vulnerable communities.

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