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Carolinas HealthCare System Teams with YMCA to Tackle Diabetes

November is National Diabetes Month, and today, Carolinas HealthCare System announced its pledge to tackle the national public health epidemic of Type 2 diabetes, which affects more than 26 million individuals across the country and more than 1 million people across the Carolinas. In partnership with YMCA of Greater Charlotte, Carolinas HealthCare System will lead a multi-pronged effort, dubbed "Pre-D Challenge: Reverse the Risk," to reduce the prevalence of diabetes in the region.

Take the prediabetes risk assessment test.

“We treat more people with diabetes than any other health system in the Carolinas – more than 100,000 people. And while we’re experts at helping diabetics manage their condition, what we really want is to help people who are headed toward diabetes change course, so they never even get there,” said Michael C. Tarwater, CEO of Carolinas HealthCare System. “When we say we’re committed to the health of our community, this is exactly what we mean. We’re taking on the challenge to reduce our region’s rate of diabetes.”

“When we say we’re committed to the health of our community, this is exactly what we mean. We’re taking on the challenge to reduce our region’s rate of diabetes.”

Michael C. Tarwater
Carolinas HealthCare System

Prediabetes is a serious health condition and a precursor to developing Type 2 diabetes, a disease that can lead to stroke, heart disease, kidney failure, blindness and other complications. Through this "Reverse the Risk" prevention effort and challenge, Carolinas HealthCare System will offer an initial online risk assessment to identify individuals at higher risk for having or developing diabetes. At-risk individuals may then take advantage of free diabetes testing opportunities taking place at designated YMCA locations and other community locations across Mecklenburg County, and get connected to local resources to manage, improve and possibly reverse their condition.

The challenge is to engage 50,000 adults to complete a risk assessment by November 1, 2014 with a goal of identifying 10,000 individuals who are at risk for developing prediabetes or diabetes. For those at risk, Carolinas HealthCare System will offer preventive services and treatment options.

“Oftentimes, understanding that a person is at risk is the first step to making the necessary changes needed to live better, healthier lives,” said Andy Calhoun, YMCA of Greater Charlotte President. “As a leading voice on improving the nation’s health and well-being, the Y wants residents of Charlotte to understand their risk of developing chronic diseases like Type 2 diabetes. With our partners at Carolinas Healthcare System, we believe this effort will lead to a healthier community.”

Individuals identified with prediabetes will have the opportunity to enroll in evidence-based lifestyle-change programs that are recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and proven to reduce participant’s risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. The programs will be offered at Mecklenburg County branches of YMCA of Greater Charlotte and designated community locations. Together, Carolinas Healthcare System and the Y have trained more than 60 of their staff members to lead the program and bring it to community locations across Mecklenburg County.

The programs focus on sustained lifestyle change, including measured weight loss, improved nutritional habits and increased physical activity. Studies show that program involvement may cut participants’ risk of getting diabetes in half.

“North Carolina is the eleventh most prevalent state in the country when it comes to diabetes and prediabetes, and a significant percentage of people with diabetes are unaware of it. In fact, the vast majority of people with prediabetes don’t even know that they are at increased risk for developing Type 2 diabetes,” said Zeev Neuwirth, MD, Chief Clinical Executive of Carolinas HealthCare System Medical Group. “Fortunately, the progression to diabetes can be halted or even reversed if interventions begin early enough. By helping to identify and treat people with prediabetes, we’re taking a proactive step to prevent diabetes and protect our community’s health.”

In addition to its efforts to reduce the local rate of prediabetes, Carolinas Healthcare System is transforming the way diabetes is treated, offering access to nationally recognized diabetes care givers and innovative care models such as shared medical appointments, personalized long-term care plans delivered by multi-disciplinary diabetes care teams, and future virtual visits. Carolinas HealthCare System and YMCA of Greater Charlotte have a 20-year history of partnering together to care for the community.

Through a shared medical referral program, Carolinas HealthCare System embeds registered nurses, registered dietitians and athletic trainers within designated YMCA locations, offering a convenient access point for patients and the community at large to participate in various clinical programming, including cancer wellness and Parkinson’s disease support. One of the first models of its kind, the organizations also have connected to one another through the patients’ electronic medical record to ensure seamless care and connectivity between Carolinas HealthCare System and the YMCA staff.