Making a Difference in Diabetes Care
In Dallas recently, I spent some time with Donna Rice, MBA, RN, CDE, a dedicated and energetic colleague who has just opened a new diabetes center. The Diabetes Health and Wellness Institute is located in South Dallas, which has a very high incidence of diabetes and its complications, including cardiovascular disease and stroke. Its rate of hospitalizations for diabetes is 17 percent higher than that of any other area in the city.
I visited the facility shortly before its grand opening in June and found that it is no ordinary diabetes center. For starters, it is an impressive renovation of the former Juanita J. Craft Recreation Center, named after a renowned community activist who long served this underprivileged and crime-ridden neighborhood. But it isn't the history of the building that makes it unique. It's the mission of the center: to improve the care and save lives of people with diabetes using a new model focused on health care, education, and research. Baylor Health Care System (which has pledged to invest $15 million over five years) and the City of Dallas have joined forces at the center in an effort to improve South Dallas's grim health statistics.
Plans for the center include:
Diabetes education: Groups and individuals working with diabetes educators will acquire the skills and knowledge necessary to manage their disease.
Treatment: A modern health clinic will be staffed by a full-time physician, a nurse practitioner, visiting specialists, diabetes educators, and a referral coordinator.
Recreation: The City of Dallas Park and Recreation Department will offer healthful activities including sports, dance classes, running and walking clinics, weight training, and after-school and holiday youth programs. The center has a large gymnasium and is surrounded by a 22-acre park with athletic fields, a swimming pool, and walking trails.
Classes and seminars: There are classrooms, computers, and conference rooms to help bring valuable information to the community. A fully equipped teaching kitchen has broadcast capabilities.
Outreach: Health workers will go into the neighborhood to provide screenings, education, and treatment.
Clearly, this center offers comprehensive services and support to an underserved, at-risk community. It is well funded and managed by qualified and committed people. This new resource in Dallas is evidence that although diabetes is a serious and growing problem, and we continually hear about how bad things are, there are motivated people stepping up to address the challenge. I hope the Diabetes Health and Wellness Institute in South Dallas inspires others to seek out opportunities in their own communities to make a difference.