SAN FERNANDO VALLEY: Diabetes Treatment Program Part Of L.A. County’s New Focus On Chronic Disease
A diabetes treatment and education program in the San Fernando Valley is indicative of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health's "new emphasis" on targeting chronic disease in uninsured and underserved populations. The program, Meet Each Need with Dignity (MEND), brings together the health services agency and the local American Diabetes Association chapter to serve "a largely low-income Latino clientele." As many as one in four Mexican Americans and Puerto Ricans aged 45 and older are diabetic, according to ADA figures. Sixteen million diabetic Americans do not know they have the disease, and the county DHS and the local diabetes chapter began the MEND campaign last year to reach the undiagnosed. Keith Richman, head of the ADA chapter, said there are "somewhere in the range of 120,000 diabetics in the Valley" alone, with as many as a third unaware of their condition. To date, MEND "has screened more than 2,000 residents for the disease, raised more than $90,000, distributed educational materials to tens of thousands and started four support groups for diabetics." MEND, which charges "fees based on one's ability to pay," has also "treated more than 100 low-income diabetics" who lacked health care coverage.
New Prevention Priority
According to the Los Angeles Times, the MEND approach "coincides" with the county's new chronic disease prevention and education focus. This week, the health services department will ask the county Board of Supervisors for $950,000 to fund its new chronic disease prevention and education focus, the first time county health officials have made such a request. "The health department has traditionally done a good job in containing and combatting contagious disease," said Jonathan Fielding, county public health director. "Now we have a great opportunity to reduce the overall toll of chronic disease" (Garvey, 6/29).