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Disease Management Program helps employees improve health

by UofL Today last modified May 04, 2010 09:35 AM

University of Louisville faculty and staff, their spouses and dependents are getting extra help managing their diabetes through a new program that UofL Health Care designed and provides.

The Diabetes Disease Management program is intended to provide participants with the proper medication, education and one-on-one coaching they need to properly manage their disease.

The program provides participants with free hypertension, cholesterol, oral and injectable diabetes-related medications, insulin and supplies, as well as the opportunity to work closely with a UofL Health Care pharmacist who has been trained to help individuals with diabetes. In return, participants are asked to regularly meet with their pharmacist coach, stick to their program, and attend Diabetes Education Classes.

Participation in the program, which started Jan. 1, is voluntary, confidential, and, so far, has been by mail invitation only, but that is changing. In May, there will be four “Lunch and Learn” sessions for people with diabetes who have health insurance through UofL and are interested in learning more about this program.

Sessions are scheduled for May 11 and May 18, 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m., in the Human Resources Building on Belknap Campus; and for May 13 and May 20, 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Room 110 of the Abell Administration Building at the Health Sciences Center. Anyone who wants to attend must call 217-5339 to RSVP.

"We want all diagnosed diabetics to join the program,” said Richard Goldstein, chief executive officer for University Physicians Associates Services. “We believe this program brings together the critical resources to enable UofL beneficiaries to optimally manage their diabetes.”

UofL contracts with UPA Services and UofL Health Care to provide the program.

“So far, about 80 UofL employees are active participants. This response is really encouraging.” said Alice Cissell, COO of UPA Services.

One of those, and the first to sign up, is Cathy Carter, a financial coordinator in the Office of the Vice President for Research. Carter identified herself as a participant when she thanked someone who works in the UofL benefits department for the university offering the program as an employee benefit.

"I can't tell you what a benefit it is to me," Carter said recently. "My blood sugar was out of control in January. My numbers are night and day better because of the program. It makes a difference in how I feel, and I have more energy than I have had in a long time.

"It already has changed my life," she said. "I can't wait to see where I am a year from now."

UofL Health Care clinical pharmacist Tina Claypool meets with patients on a regular basis to map out a course to manage their diabetes. The frequency of their meetings depends on the complexity of the participant's disease.

"Tina really took charge but in the most gentle and supportive way," Carter said. “She made a list of things I should do. She made me understand that I was responsible to do these things, but gave me a clear path."

Pharmacists at the UofL Health Care pharmacy also help.

"I can't believe the time they give me to make sure I understand how to use the medications," Carter said. "I went to the Kroger pharmacy for 15 years, and they didn't know my name.

"I've never had a support network like this. They work closely with my internist, and she's not even a UofL employee."

Carter estimated that she saves about $250 per month in diabetes medications by receiving them at no cost through the program. But she also noted that her regimen has changed in the program and that the savings amount really could be more.

"Anyone who's dealing with diabetes needs to seriously look at this program," she said. "This has taken my benefit package from good to 'can't be matched anyplace else'.

For more information about the program, UofL employees can call Donna Mathews, RN, director of disease management for UPA Services, at 562-3680.

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