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Bklyn Hospitals, Health Centers Launch Diabetes Management Program

Several NYC Health + Hospitals locations are expanding their services to empower diabetes patients
East New York Hospital, BK Reader
Photo credit: Google Map

NYC Health + Hospitals announced on Wednesday a new diabetes management program to serve more than 60,000 New Yorkers with diabetes at the city's public hospitals and community-based health centers. Participating locations in Brooklyn include NYC Health + Hospitals/Gotham Health centers in East New York and Fort Greene, as well as Woodhull and Kings County Hospitals.

As part of the expansion, the public health system will deploy additional clinical pharmacists and purchase new equipment to make teleretinal screening part of routine care for all diabetes patients. NYC Health + Hospitals is also piloting a program that provides telephone-based peer mentorship.

"There isn't a single silver bullet for treating diabetes, a disease that impacts many areas of one's health and lifestyle, requiring a comprehensive approach to health management," said Dave Chokshi, vice president and chief population health officer at NYC Health + Hospitals. "With this multi-pronged approach, we can help many patients who are struggling to manage their diabetes streamline their care by tracking their blood sugar levels and food intake, customizing their medication and being more proactive around preventative screenings."

Nearly one million New Yorkers have diabetes, and about 19 percent are undiagnosed. Uncontrolled diabetes can cause blindness and chronic kidney disease, which may require dialysis and lower extremity amputations. Obese New Yorkers are two times more likely as other adults to have diabetes. Black, Hispanic and Asian New Yorkers are also at least twice as likely to have diabetes as white New Yorkers.

The public health system is investing approximately $3 million to hire 20 clinical pharmacists to help patients with uncontrolled diabetes to manage their treatment between primary care visits. The pharmacists will be added throughout the public health system, including in Brooklyn facilities, by the end of 2020.

Beginning later this year, NYC Health + Hospitals will be implementing teleretinal screening in its primary care services, making it more convenient for diabetes patients to stay on top of their eye health. Patients with uncontrolled diabetes are at risk for developing diabetic retinopathy, the leading cause of blindness in U.S. adults aged 20-74, officials said. The screenings will be available at Kings County and Woodhull Hospitals, as well as the Gotham Health/ East New York Center.  

NYC Health+Hospitals has also partnered with InquisitHealth, a social therapeutics tech company that provides diabetes patients with telephone-based peer mentorship to support their diabetes self-management. Once a patient is referred to InquisitHealth by their primary care doctor, they are matched with a culturally appropriate mentor. The peer mentoring program has been available at Kings County Hospital and the Gotham Health/ Cumberland Center since last December.

"We're investing in these new programs to make primary care more robust and effective for patients with uncontrolled diabetes and help them adhere to their medications, take care of their vision, get counseling from someone who has experienced the same challenges and ultimately feel empowered to take charge of their health," said Mitchell Katz, NYC Health + Hospitals' president and CEO.