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Truman Medical Center Leads Effort To Control Worsening Diabetes Epidemic
Lamont G. Weide, MD, Ph.D, FACE Chief, Diabetes and Endocrinology Truman Medical Centers

As part of a national campaign to elevate diabetes as a national health priority, Truman Medical Center is participating in a listening tour hosted by Taking Control of Your Diabetes (TCOYD) and the National Minority Quality Forum (NMQF). As the numbers of people with uncontrolled diabetes escalate and billions of dollars continue to be spent in the healthcare system, the listening tour will focus on shifting the current dialogue to one that includes diabetes prevention, treatment and management to help elevate diabetes as a public health priority that requires urgent attention and action.

TCOYD and NMQF are hosting a series of town hall meetings across the country to examine what communities are doing to achieve blood sugar control, to improve the uncontrolled diabetes epidemic, and to identify programs that are working and those that are not. The Diabetes Nation: America At Risk listening tour stop in Kansas City will be at the Intercontinental Hotel at the Plaza on Monday, Oct. 5, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Working to inspire action and greater understanding, the Diabetes Nation: America At Risk listening tour brings this national public health issue to local communities to provide patients, policymakers and healthcare providers with the opportunity to work together towards better health outcomes.

“We are proud to represent Kansas City in driving conversations about diabetes impact and implications and to close the gap surrounding diabetes disease management,” said Lamont G. Weide, M.D., Ph.D., F.A.C.E., chief, Diabetes & Endocrinology, Truman Medical Centers.  “Truman Medical Center is committed to finding real solutions for helping improve uncontrolled diabetes and for identifying barriers that prevent patients from achieving blood sugar control.”

Diabetes is a chronic public health problem in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of Americans with diabetes more than quadrupled from 5.6 million in 1980 to 23.6 million people in 2007. Just two years later, the agency released statistics showing that nearly 24 million Americans were affected by diabetes—meaning nearly eight percent of the U.S. population had diabetes. In Kansas City, diabetes has most significantly impacted the African American and elder populations (over age 65, regardless of race). In 2008, the prevalence of diabetes grew to 14.01 percent or greater for both populations.

The total annual cost of diabetes was estimated to be $174 billion in 2007. Medical expenditures totaled $116 billion and were comprised of $27 billion for diabetes care, $58 billion for chronic diabetes-related complications and $31 billion for excess general medical costs.

Diabetes has significant health consequences for individuals and communities, such as those that include African Americans, Latinos and Native Americans,” explained Gary A. Puckrein, Ph.D., president and chief executive officer of NMQF. “Individuals in those communities have much higher rates of diabetes-related complications and death. It’s time to take on the fight and break barriers in diabetes disparities.”

With a shift in dialogue, the listening tour will examine what various audiences are doing to achieve optimal blood sugar control and/or to help improve the epidemic of uncontrolled diabetes, and to identify programs that are working and those that are not. Participants will be able to assess how to incorporate prevention, early treatment and effective disease management as part of defining a new model to better serve those impacted by diabetes.

Convening in December in Washington, D.C., the outcomes of the listening tour will be presented at a National Conference on Diabetes to private and public stakeholders in an effort to control one of the most costly diseases, and come to an understanding that better disease management and awareness may improve quality of life.

“With healthcare reform on the agenda, it’s time, now more than ever, to tackle an escalating public health crisis such as diabetes, which has a monumental financial impact on our healthcare system,” said Steven V. Edelman, M.D., founder and director of TCOYD. “By getting diabetes under control, we can begin to understand how to effectively manage other chronic diseases and work towards a high-quality, cost-effective healthcare system.”

The Diabetes Nation: America At Risk listening tour features a town-hall setting with brief presentations followed by an interactive question and answer session. Participants will be able to share how diabetes impacts their lives, and the tour will capture stories and feedback. At the event, which is open to the public, participants will have the opportunity to talk with local government officials and with Dr. Weide.

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