Through working with our patients here in this community we realized that there was a sub group of our total diabetic patient population that had consistently poor control of their diabetes. We noticed they were frequently admitted to the ER at SFGH and were seen more frequently at our clinic due to diabetes related health issues. Roughly 4-5 years ago we decided to confront this issue head on and outreach directly to this population so that we can put more of our efforts where it was most needed. We described this population as our diabetes outliers, hence Diabetes Outlier Day.
We have this event quarterly beginning in March, then in June and September while using the last quarter event for our larger scale Diabetes Day. Besides patients with poor diabetes control, we also outreach to our diabetic patients who have been out of care. Being out of care indicates to us that they are past due for the annual services that diabetics need to do to avoid complications around their diabetes such as blindness, neuropathy, nephropathy, dialysis and amputations. Some of the services we offer during these events are retinal screenings, foot exams, med education and dispensing prescriptions and labs. We also give patients increased access to medical care through appointments with their providers, health coaches and health coverage such as Healthy San Francisco.
We design these events to be interactive and to elicit dialogue from this patient population so that they feel comfortable talking to our diabetes team about their challenges regarding their sugar control. We typically have at least two skits or presentations that are focused on both educating and entertaining our patients. We invite our therapists to come and talk about depression, anxiety and stress reduction, mental health issues that are prevalent in our diabetic patient population. The Social Work department here at St. Anthony’s also sends a representative to give information and offer assistance on food access, housing and any other social service issues the patients may be faced with.
We have come to realize that incentives are a good way of increasing attendance and bringing folks in for these events. We work with the St. Anthony Dining Room and the Tenderloin Community Garden in order to get fruit and vegetables that are bagged for the patients to take home. This, along with raffle prizes and games makes this event more attractive for patients to attend. Lastly this event allows for our most in-need diabetic patients to feel relaxed, comfortable and at home when talking to our diabetes team about their chronic illness.
by Jaime Martinez, St. Anthony Medical Clinic’s Diabetes Care Coordinator