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Posted: 2018-12-04 18:08:38

Diabetes is quickly becoming the biggest epidemic of the twenty-first century. According to the American Diabetes Association, more than 30 million Americans — nearly 10 percent of the U.S. population — had diabetes in 2015, and 1.5 million Americans are diagnosed with new cases of diabetes each year. A full 25 percent of people don’t even know they have the disease or are at risk.

Working toward controlled diabetes has multiple benefits: healthier people, fewer complications, and lower costs. Complications of uncontrolled diabetes, such as peripheral neuropathy, cardiovascular disease, and kidney issues, are incredibly damaging and resource intensive. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the total medical costs and lost work and wages for those diagnosed with diabetes totals a staggering $245 billion every year.

But despite the severe and life threatening complications, Type 2 diabetes can often be prevented — and managed — through diet and exercise. That’s why self-management and education is so important to treating the disease and improving the quality of life for patients. Health centers across the country and in Michigan are approaching the epidemic in unique ways. CHASS Center, in Michigan, is a great example of what’s working. That’s because at the Community Health and Social Services Center,  known as CHASS, tackling diabetes is a team sport.

Since 2001, CHASS Center has implemented and tested a number of different diabetes interventions.

When a patient is first diagnosed, the care team activates a multi-pronged approach to not only treat the disease, but also to educate the patient on how to manage it. After working with their patients, providers immediately refer them to a community health worker. Community health workers are the frontline defense in the battle against diabetes, especially because physicians may only see a patient two times a year. They help patients create a personalized care plan based on the treatment goal,

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