The Baxter International Foundation and Direct Relief Launch Program to Improve Diabetes Care in Underserved Communities


Community Health

Direct Relief and Baxter International Foundation staff tour Erie Family Health Center, one of four health centers in the Chicago area to received the Transformative Innovation Award. (Photo by Melissa Blackmon for Direct Relief)

The Baxter International Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Baxter International Inc., and the global humanitarian organization Direct Relief announced today the launch of the Transformative Innovation Awards for Community Health: Incorporating Nutrition to Improve Diabetes Health Outcomes. The three-year program will award $750,000 in funding to health centers and free and charitable clinics that are working to improve diabetes health outcomes for patients, focusing on the Greater Chicago area in the first year.

“Ensuring that individuals from all communities and neighborhoods have access to needed health resources is one of the reasons that we partner with companies like Baxter,” said Thomas Tighe, president and CEO, Direct Relief. “We’re excited to build on our collaboration with Baxter for the Transformative Innovation Awards and highlight the efforts of local providers who are bringing access to care for patients and communities.”

The health centers and charitable clinics selected for the first year will use the awards to expand nutrition education and diabetes prevention programs in communities located on the west and southwest sides of Chicago and Crystal Lake, Ill. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, there are an estimated 1.3 million people in Illinois living with diabetes, and another 3.6 million are prediabetic.

“We’re honored to expand our work with Direct Relief to bring needed resources to health centers that are working tirelessly to improve care for patients living with diabetes in under-resourced areas,” said Verónica Arroyave, executive director of the Baxter International Foundation.

Nearly $200,000 was awarded to the following organizations for the Transformative Innovation Awards in 2019:

  • CommunityHealth: With 12% of its patients being diabetic and another 6% prediabetic, CommunityHealth recognizes the importance of tackling diabetes through treatment, education and nutrition. With the award, CommunityHealth will more than double the size of its six-week nutrition program and workshops where patients learn how to cook and prep their own healthy meals.
  • Erie Family Health Center Inc: As part of its Diabetes Prevention and Management (DPM) initiative, Erie will use the award to start four new lifestyle change groups based on the Centers for Disease Control’s evidence-based National Diabetes Prevention Program for adults with prediabetes and those with high risk factors. Lifestyle change groups deliver an intensive, structured educational program that focuses on patient behavior modification to support healthy eating, increased physical activity, and stress management. Additionally, funding will be used to expand one-on-one health education for diabetic adults.
  • Esperanza Health Centers: Esperanza’s nurse-led insulin titration program helps address the social and economic barriers that impact the health of its primarily Latino patients living with diabetes. The award will be used to expand the program that pairs a patient with a registered nurse who maintains weekly check-ins to provide ongoing, patient-centered nutrition education and counseling to address behavioral, cultural, and systemic barriers to healthy eating.
  • Family Health Partnership Clinic: Family Health Partnership Clinic will use the award to implement a ‘Health Coaching Program’ developed by the University of California, San Francisco’s Center for Excellence in Primary Care, dedicating a nurse and health coach to improve health literacy and access to healthy foods, promote lifestyle and behavioral changes and increase patients’ awareness of their glucose levels. Those enrolled in this program will have their charts reviewed regularly by the clinic’s medical director, a specialist in diabetes management.

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