CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Mingo County Diabetes Coalition will receive at least $1 million to take part in an innovative plan to help rural diabetics learn to manage their disease, the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Innovation announced Tuesday.
Mingo County and three locations in North Carolina and Mississippi are part of a $9.8 million Health Care Innovation grant awarded to Duke University Medical Center and the University of Michigan's National Center for Geospatial Medicine.
The Mingo Coalition applied for $2 million of that money, but has not been told exactly how much it will receive. It will use the money to reach diabetics in the more isolated areas of the county -- near Gilbert and Kermit, for instance, the group's president said Wednesday.
"We'll be able to hire people to go out to meet patients in their homes and communities," Vicki Lynn Hatfield said. "We want to identify and eliminate barriers that get in people's way when they try to take care of their diabetes."
The coalition will then work with the County Commission and other civic groups to try to solve some of those problems: "public policy, transportation issues, sidewalks or recreational opportunities, for instance," she said.
As part of the three-year project, the University of Michigan will combine on-the-ground Mingo information with geospatial mapping and community information to produce maps of community needs, said Marie Lynn Miranda, who directs the University of Michigan's National Center for Geospatial Medicine. "This will allow researchers to visualize complex relationships among the locations of diabetes patients, patterns of health care and available social resources," she said.
"We will help develop models that other communities can use to help rural patients on Medicare and Medicaid learn to manage their diabetes better," Hatfield said. In the long run, she said, patients will be spared a lot of suffering and the taxpayers will save money.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services estimates the entire Duke project will reduce medical spending by $20 million in three years, a return of $2 in savings for every $1 spent.
"Changing the course of the diabetes epidemic requires a radically new approach," said Robert Califf, Duke's vice chancellor for clinical research. "By combining modern technology of electronic records and geospatial mapping with community-based health care professionals, we believe we can achieve the triple aim of better outcomes, better health care and lower cost."
Mingo community workers will eventually be able to show a county commissioner or a diabetes patient a satellite map of any part of the county, with superimposed maps that show the area's services and needs, Califf said.
"None of this would be happening in Mingo County if we had not formed a coalition," Hatfield said. Last year, Mingo residents concerned about diabetes -- nurses, doctors, pharmacists, hospital administrators, church representatives, West Virginia University Extension agents -- came together to create the Mingo County Diabetes Coalition.