Diabetes has reached epidemic proportions nationwide, but few places are affected more than the Central Valley. From San Joaquin to Kern County, our area’s diabetes patients have some of the nation’s worst outcomes – due to poverty, lack of insurance, provider shortages, and the lack of evidence-based chronic care programs.
Looking for a way to improve our community’s diabetes outcomes, Camarena Health partnered with the School of Nursing at the University of California – San Francisco and other health providers within the Central Valley Health Network to launch a shared medical appointment program called ALDEA.
The shared medical appointment model increases access to diabetes self-management education and offers diabetics increased support – from both their provider and their peers.
“Instead of having a one-to-one fifteen minute appointment with their provider, patients have a two-hour session,” explained Carolina Espinosa-Noya, an Associate Clinical Professor at UCSF. “They receive their usual medical care, but in addition to that they receive diabetes management and self-education, and this happens in the context of peer support.”
Starting in September 2018, Camarena Health joined Community Medical Centers and ALTURA Centers for Health in offering shared appointments to our diabetes patients. 73 patients attended shared appointments throughout the last quarter of 2018, where they received their regular care but also learned management techniques and behaviors that would improve their daily lives.
“What I enjoy most about these shared medical appointments,” said Yazmin Polycarpe, a Camarena Health Educator, “is that they bring a group of individuals together. And I enjoy seeing those people grow from when they first started to how much they know now. They’re a lot more aware of what they’re eating and how the choices they’re making affect their lives.”
The hope is that these shared appointments will not only increase patients’ access to care, but also increase their engagement. Well-educated patients with a solid support network tend to have better diabetes outcomes – and live overall healthier lives.
“When patients become more involved, they become proactive,” said Nathaniel Lara, a Camarena Health Physician Assistant, and shared appointment provider. “Some patients have already seen a tremendous improvement, upwards to two or three points decrease in their A1C [level].”
The shared appointment model is just one example of how Camarena Health is looking to improve the Central Valley’s health outcomes and solve the unique problems facing our community. If you are diabetic and would like to join a shared appointment, reach out to your local provider, or call Camarena Health at 559.664.4000.