People to Know 2013: Marshall Chin and Monica Peek
What do doctors from the University of Chicago and I, a social worker from Gambrills, Md., have in common? We all understand that in order to reduce disparities in how diabetes affects different people we have to meet people where they are.
The Improving Diabetes Care and Outcomes on the South Side of Chicago project is headed by Marshall Chin, MD, MPH, and Monica Peek, MD, MPH, who practice internal medicine and are a professor and assistant professor, respectively, at the university. When I learned about the project, I was impressed by Marshall and Monica's holistic approach to diabetes care and prevention. The project challenges the traditional health care model for diabetes—one that requires people to visit the doctor, get lab work done, and receive prescription medications and figure out how to eat right and exercise.
Instead, the project delivers comprehensive services to disadvantaged people with diabetes at the grassroots level. Marshall and Monica's understanding of the complexity of diabetes treatment led to development of a program that brings an array of services directly into the neighborhoods of people who need them the most. The South Side project combines the power of diabetes education, grocery store tours, group therapy, medication adherence, exercise, family support, community events, and access to affordable food to overcome many of the barriers that inhibit effective diabetes treatment and management.
I find the doctors' work especially inspiring because for the past 12 years I have served as executive director of an organization that provides home-delivered meals for low-income people with diabetes. I have witnessed the dramatic impact that bringing care to underserved populations (instead of waiting for them to come to us) has on people who would otherwise go without such support.
Not only does the South Side project benefit the people it serves today, but the best practices identified by this research project promise to improve the landscape of diabetes treatment for many years to come.
Jennifer Schugam, LCSW-C, is the president of Feeding the People, which brings diabetes education and healthy meals to low-income people in the Baltimore area.