The Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers Announces Initiative to Improve Community-Based Healthcare Services for Diabetics in Camden
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
CAMDEN, NJ – The Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers today announced the launch of the Camden Citywide Diabetes Collaborative, formed by Cooper University Hospital, Our Lady of Lourdes Health System, Virtua Health, CAMcare Health Corporation, Camden-AHEC, Project H.O.P.E., and 6 independent primary care providers. Funded in part by a $2 million dollar grant from the Merck Company Foundation, the Collaborative is a multipronged effort aimed at improving the care of Camden residents with diabetes while reducing overutilization of area hospitals and emergency departments. Through this 5 year grant, the Collaborative will build a new patient-centered infrastructure in Camden that will serve as a model for other underserved, urban centers nationwide.
Mark DiFilippo, project coordinator for the Camden Citywide Diabetes Collaborative, explained, "the Collaborative will expand bilingual Diabetes Self Management Education classes throughout the city, providing an opportunity for empowerment and heightened self efficacy for all city residents. This is in addition to the Coalition's highly successful Care Management Project wherein a team of health professionals provides outreach services to the homeless, frequent users of the emergency departments, poorly controlled diabetics, and medical daycare participants."
Furthermore, the Collaborative will aid local primary care offices in the implementation of key improvements to their existing systems. Practices will be supported by Collaborative resources to enhance linkages between endocrinology and primary care physicians, provide community-based and practice-based diabetes education, expand cross-site data sharing, develop standard citywide care protocols, implement Electronic Medical Records, and utilize a citywide diabetes registry.
"The broad goal of the initiative," says Jeffrey Brenner, MD, Medical Director of the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers, "is to help local primary care offices become modern, patient-centered medical homes using the chronic care model."
"Organizations like the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers are critical as catalysts for collaboration and system-wide improvements to healthcare delivery for complex, chronically ill patients in Camden," continues Brenner. "No institution can improve health care alone, but through multisite collaboration, we knit together our fragmented and complex system making it more patient-centered and cost effective."
The American health care system has become increasingly complex and difficult for even the most educated and motivated patients to navigate. For patients with complex chronic illnesses, living in poor communities like Camden, the overstrained health system breaks down and health disparities begin to appear. "For instance, minority populations have much higher rates of blindness, kidney failure, and amputations due to diabetes," remarks Steven Kaufman, MD, Staff Endocrinologist for the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers.
In 2005, the U.S. Census designated Camden as the poorest city in the United States. In fact, nearly 44% of families live below the federal poverty level. In 2003 and 2004, it was designated as "The Most Dangerous City in the United States" in a report by the research group Morgan-Quitno. These conditions lead to enormous barriers to comprehensive and effective diabetes care.
"Health care cost increases show no signs of slowing down. Patients with chronic illnesses are an important component of the increases in health care costs." adds Brenner. "It is possible to provide higher quality care and lower costs by providing more systematic and organized care. For patients with complex, chronic illnesses like diabetes, they often fall through the cracks. We are working together - providers, medical offices, hospitals, and public health organizations - in Camden, to build a seamless, organized, community-wide approach to the care of diabetes."
The Merck Company Foundation has committed $15 million to support community-based programs in Camden, Chicago, Dallas, Fort Washakie, Wyoming. and Memphis, Tennessee.
"We cannot and should not ignore the growing physical and economic toll of inadequate healthcare on the lives of many individuals in the United States," said Richard T. Clark, chairman, president, and chief executive officer, Merck & Co., Inc.
"With the help of the Merck Company Foundation," says Brenner, "the Camden Citywide Diabetes Collaborative is uniquely positioned to directly impact the care of more than 90% of city residents with diabetes."
The Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers is a six-year old strategic initiative designed to improve the quality, capacity, and accessibility of the healthcare system for vulnerable, chronically ill residents of Camden, New Jersey. Funded by grants and contributions from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Centene Foundation, the Merck Company Foundation and the Cooper Health System, the organization's activities include community outreach, case management of high needs patients, health provider education, practice management capacity building, data collection and evaluation, and coalition building among key stakeholders.