The California Community Foundation grant funds collaborative effort
Managing diabetes is a year-round challenge for anyone living with the disease. The challenge is even greater for underserved and uninsured people who often don't have easy access to the care they need to manage their diabetes.
Their inability to effectively manage their diabetes puts them at significantly higher risk for long-term complications, including kidney failure, amputations and blindness.
With the award of a $550,000 grant from The California Community Foundation, a team of Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute (LA BioMed) researchers are launching the "Centrifugal Medicine - Optimizing Access to Care" project to help underserved and uninsured diabetics who live in Centinela Valley, which includes Inglewood, Hawthorne, Lennox, Los Angeles, El Segundo, Watts, Compton and Lawndale. The project's goal is to develop integrated and comprehensive care models that will help Centinela Valley residents improve their diabetes management and avoid these long-term complications.
"Effective management of the glucose levels in the blood is essential to the long-term health of anyone living with diabetes," said Eli Ipp, MD, an LA BioMed lead researcher and the principal investigator for the project. "Yet a recent survey of underserved and uninsured people living with diabetes found poor blood glucose control was turning a manageable condition into a veritable time bomb. Our research project will identify the most pressing barriers to their access to the healthcare they need to improve their diabetes management."
Dr. Ipp and his team will address two identified needs: access to diabetes eye screening and access to the education and opportunities for lifestyle change that can improve glucose control. These interventions are intended to prevent complications associated with diabetes.
The project is a collaborative effort that takes a novel approach to coordinating and integrating diabetes care in the community. This pro-active strategy will be implemented by the Diabetes Program at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center/LA BioMed and the Hubert Humphrey Comprehensive Health Center. Additional community involvement will assist patients with lifestyle changes at a special program located at the Weingart YMCA, which will be operated in collaboration with the UCLA Clinical and Translational Science Institute.
The project will target specific patient groups and provide simple and specific interventions to overcome these barriers. For instance, diabetes is the leading cause of adult blindness in the U.S., but blindness can be prevented with early detection and treatment.
Annual screening for eye (retinal) disease in anyone with diabetes is the key to staving off visual impairment. At the county's clinics, digital photography is the current method for screening, but only about half of residents with diabetes receive the screening due to economic and other barriers to service. This research project will overcome these barriers and develop a model of care that can be more widely adopted to improve the health of underserved people living with diabetes.
"Once we have identified successful strategies to improve their diabetes management, we will seek additional funding to take these strategies to the next level, bringing potentially lifesaving care to a broader cross-section of Angelenos," said Dr. Ipp. "The long-term goals of our research are to increase the availability of coordinated, integrated and effective systems of healthcare and service delivery to combat the disproportionately high rates of diabetes and its complications among the underserved."