Eastern Virginia Medical School is launching a major effort to target diabetes in Western Tidewater – a largely rural area where disease is a leading cause of hospitalizations and death.
The four-year $ 800,000 project is expected to launch by early 2022, according to a press release from EVMS. It will measure the impact of a coordinated and multidimensional approach to improve access to diabetes education and care in the region and to reduce hospitalizations due to diabetes and its complications, said endocrinologist Dr David Lieb, associate professor of internal medicine and medical director of the project.
The 160,000 residents of Western Tidewater are more likely than others in Virginia to have diabetes, Lieb said. They have high rates of traditional risk factors for diabetes and related complications, including advanced age, obesity and food insecurity.
The region also has a large African American population, Lieb said. African Americans at Western Tidewater are twice as likely as whites to be hospitalized with complications from diabetes.
All of this contributes to the urgent need for intervention, Lieb said.
“It is imperative that our community determine effective methods to reduce the prevalence of diabetes, care for people with diabetes, and reduce hospitalization and death rates from diabetes and its associated conditions,” he said. .
Dr Alfred Abuhamad, Acting President and Provost of EVMS and Dean of the School of Medicine, said the project demonstrates the school’s community-based vision.
“With the support of the community, EVMS has developed considerable expertise in the area of diabetes,” said Abuhamad. “It’s only fitting that we leverage this capacity to provide support to our underserved communities. “
Lieb is one of the four principal investigators of the EVMS Strelitz Diabetes Center project. He is accompanied by Dr Elias Siraj, professor of internal medicine, head of endocrine and metabolic disorders and director of the Strelitz Diabetes Center; Dr Henri Parson, associate professor of internal medicine and director of microvascular biology; and Dr. Carolina Casellini, assistant professor of internal medicine.
Siraj played a key role in the design of the project and is now collaborating and overseeing the project. He applauded the decision of the EVMS leadership to fund the work and said it strengthens the school’s commitment to improving health disparities in the community.
“The Western Tidewater area is one of the hardest hit areas in Virginia with regard to Diabetes and its complications, ”Siraj said. “At the same time, it is an area where health coverage is very low. It is in this context that our study will make a difference in the community. This will help to better understand Diabetes and its complications in the community and orient patients towards better care and better outcomes.
EVMS has been present at Western Tidewater for almost a decade, an effort largely dependent on funding from outside agencies.
“What we need now is a more sustainable model,” Lieb said.
To achieve this, the EVMS project will provide pilot data on the extent of the problem. This information will be used in future applications for research opportunities and extramural funding mechanisms focused on patient-centered outcomes and community-based interventions.
A key part of the project, said Lieb, is widespread diabetes screening – combined with follow-up so people who test positive are connected to the resources and care they need.
Another key focus will be patients who are hospitalized frequently or who seek emergency care for complications related to diabetes.
“Our hope is that we can put these people in contact with care coordinators, diabetes educators, help with transportation and give them as much help as possible to help reduce points of contact with care. health, ”Lieb said.
The project involves a range of partners at both EVMS and Sentara Healthcare. For example, students, residents and EVMS fellows will help with data collection. In return, they will accumulate valuable exposure to research methods.
Sentara has long recognized that diabetic patients in Suffolk and the surrounding area have higher hospitalization rates, said Dr Michael Genco, vice president of medical affairs at Sentara Obici Hospital.
“We are very pleased to partner with EVMS to help improve the care of our diabetic and prediabetic patients,” said Genco. “Dr. The Lieb study is a great way to start tackling this health problem.
Genco said the patient education component of the EVMS study dovetails with the hospital’s community health program which provides ongoing health education to recently released patients with chronic conditions like diabetes.
Other collaborators include Maryanne Gathambo, director of Community Engaged Learning, and Amy Paulson, director of the Consortium for Infant and Child Health (CINCH).