Patients to receive diabetes education free of charge
Jefferson County Health Center’s diabetes education program will be offered to referred patients at no charge starting next month.
Health center administrator and CEO Deb Cardin told the board of trustees during its meeting Monday the change is partly due to a low attendance number.
Currently, the health center pays $1,100 for its program to be certified.
The certification allows the health center to bill a patient’s health insurance or Title 19, and the patient is responsible for paying the deductible amount.
The requirement to pay the deductible could be the reason some people decide not to attend the program, Cardin said, and the low attendance can result in the loss of the certification, so the decision was made to forego the certification and offer the diabetes education program for free.
“The staff is ecstatic,” said Joneane Parker, vice president of clinical services. “They see the need.”
Parker and Cardin said the program offers helpful information for newly diagnosed diabetics and for those who need “a refresher” course.
Health insurance companies wouldn’t pay for patients to attend the program a second time, but now those people will be able to update their knowledge of the disease, the two women pointed out.
Cardin said while it does cost the health center to hold the educational program — it takes staff time and a large notebook of information is provided to attendees — the health center sees it as an opportunity to meet the needs of the community.
Diabetes, a disease in which the body does not produce or use insulin like it should and leads to serious complications if untreated, has reached epidemic levels across the United States, including here in Jefferson County, and is the fastest growing disease in America, according to the health center’s diabetes educator Marty Chandler.
In its effort to take health and wellness out into the community, the health center offers free blood sugar screenings to businesses, churches, clubs or other groups that request them.
According to Parker, 625 screenings have been done so far this year, and there has been discussion on offering the screenings at all the health center’s events so that more people can be screened and learn about the disease.
“We are blessed with people who want to go out and do this,” said Parker.
The Jefferson County Health Center Foundation’s recent Wine & Chocolate tasting-event was a fundraiser to support diabetes awareness and education. Cardin said attendance was down from past years, but area resident Adrian Dickey had told her it was a great event to put the foundation out into the eyes of the community.
In other business, Cardin reported a new family practice physician will be starting work between the mid- and the end of April. The physician is moving to the area from Iowa City and is currently looking for housing.
The health center is continuing its search for a general surgeon, and has met with people who could do intermediate work if necessary. Cardin thinks she will have more to report about the search at next month’s board meeting.
In other personnel issues, the health center’s chief financial officer Gene Irwin is planning to retire Dec. 31 after an 18-year career with the hospital.
“We appreciate that he’s given us a lot of advance notice,” said Cardin.
She said the position will probably be advertised at the end of the summer or in early fall, and one person “in-house” is interested in the job.