Michael Zeoli has had type 1 diabetes for the past 14 years. He had always done a good job at taking care of his own health. But then he lost his good paying job and insurance in 2008. He states that he felt abandoned and hopeless when he lost his insurance. He was always worried about being active due to possible low blood sugars. At that time he relied on his family for support. He states that his own self care when it came to his diabetes was sparse. Instead of the quarterly diabetes check-ups he was seeing a Dr. once or less per year.
Since his acceptance into the Diabetes Underinsured Clinic in June 2012, his attitude about his diabetes is much more positive. He states he has learned a lot more from the nurses, dietitians and Dr. Valitutto, than he thought he knew. Michael says he has now learned how to live a much more active lifestyle thanks to the great staff and the Borgess Diabetes Center. He has received over $2000 in Patient assistance for his diabetes medications and supplies. He states what he likes most about the program is that everyone is very personable and are open to when he needs help.
Susan Faust has been in the uninsured clinic since March 15, 2013. She says the program has been a tremendous help to her health. Upon losing her job and a new diagnoses of diabetes Susan was fearful of what to do to care for her health and states she does not know what would have happened if it were not for the care she received through the DUC program. Her A1c was 9.9% that’s an average of 220 for her blood glucose. Her A1c is now 6.9% which is an average of 151 for her blood glucose.
Susan says she is glad she has been in the program. Since receiving education and care at the clinic she has felt proactive in taking care of herself and says she has even been helping some of her friends with their diabetes. Though she would not have wished this for herself she states that “it has been an awesome ride for the better”. She has lost 30#’s and now has lots of energy. Susan obtained a new job in June and will soon have insurance in the middle of September. She wants you to know that she is very thankful for the Diabetes Uninsured Clinic. “The support and the knowledge have helped me to get my life back!”
Tom Sanders felt bad all over. The 57-year- old Albion resident had gained 50 pounds, he could no longer pass a standard physical to drive a truck, and almost any movement was a challenge to the man accustomed to roofing, plumbing, or remodeling a house in his spare time. Tom’s type 2 diabetes was out of control. He needed help to control a devastating illness that eliminated his job and the medical insurance coverage needed to fight the costliest disease in America.
“My life changed from night to day after receiving care at the Borgess Diabetes & Endocrine Center (which includes the Borgess Uninsured Diabetes Clinic),” Tom said. “The advice of nurse practitioner Erin Beauchamp, and many others, restored my blood-sugar readings and AIC (long-term measure of blood sugar control) to near normal levels. “Now I’m slimmer and again energetic,” Tom said. “I can knock out a wall to install a patio door, re-wire a room, or again drive a truck, although my wife objects to my resuming truck driving.”
The Borgess Diabetes & Endocrine Center helps Tom and others regain health and cover some expenses for the disease with a national annual price tag of $101 billion for diagnosis and treatment. By utilizing patient assistance programs, including Touchdown for Diabetes, Tom received more than $10,000 worth of medications in the past year. An estimated 66,000 people in southwest Michigan have diabetes. While there is no cure, the condition can be effectively managed.
About 200 uninsured patients, like Tom Sanders, are served each year at the Borgess Diabetes & Endocrine Center. Certified by the Michigan Department of Community Health and the American Diabetes Association, the Borgess center features classroom instruction, individual education and an insulin-pump therapy program. Specially trained in diabetes management, the nurses and dietitians provide compassionate, personalized care.
Delores Wilkerson a usually cheerful 57 year old African American woman has had diabetes for 19 years. She had taken care of it until in 2010 her life began to crumble. She had a great job for 13 years when the economic downturn changed everything. She had always had great insurance including eye and dental and had never had any difficulty with paying for co-pays for her appointments or her medications.
Losing her job turned her whole world upside down. She found out how expensive her insulin and oral medications for her diabetes really were. She was baffled that she was in this situation. Her diabetes care began to fall behind. She checked her blood sugars at the most three times per week dramatically down from the usual two times per day. Her blood sugars were high and her A1C was 8.3. She did not care what she ate when she did eat. She fell into a depression. Her relationships also began to fall apart. She says that she found out the man she married was not who she thought he was. He told her he no longer wanted to be around her if she didn’t have a job. He threatened her with taking her off his insurance. She was frightened about how and if she would be able to obtain her medications. She was fearful of how to continue to take care of herself.
She says she prayed about it, and talked with friends in her church. She decided to go to her primary care physician while she still had insurance. He recommended that she go to diabetes education classes. Delores was worn out and cryed at everything. She told the diabetes educator about how her husband was working on cutting her off of his insurance and to her they recommended the Diabetes Underinsured Clinic. She called her primary care physician about the clinic and he wrote a referral for her. She stated that when she found out about our Diabetes Underinsured Clinic it was a great relief. She stated this allowed her to leave her husband and not stay in a bad situation because now she would have a way to take care of herself. This helped dispel her fears about taking care of her diabetes. Delores qualified for the Diabetes Underinsured Clinic in May 2011.
Since coming to the clinic she has brought her blood sugars within normal limits. Her most recent A1C in September 2011 is 6.8. She now checks her blood sugars 2-3 times per day. She also counts carbohydrates at each of her meals. The Diabetes Underinsured Clinic has helped Delores with patient assistance programs for her medications. From May to Sept the clinic has provided her $8000 in patient assistance. She states that since getting into the Diabetes Underinsured Clinic she has been able to focus. She exclaims how much energy she now has. She beams with a smile as she tells me this. This past week she has been able to start a part time job. She says she is on a 90 day trial period. She says once she finishes her 90 day trial period she will be eligible for benefits including insurance and will no longer need to be in the Diabetes Underinsured Clinic. She also has obtained financial aid to start taking classes towards an associate degree in business. She is proud of herself. She states to me that before getting into the Diabetes Underinsured Clinic she lost her job, lost her best friend, lost her marriage, and lost her insurance but now she has regained her health and her positive outlook on life.
Robert Beardsley has been enrolled in the Diabetes Underinsured Clinic since April 29, 2011. When he first enrolled he was very ill. He was 50#’s underweight and had been diagnosed with a complication of diabetes called gastro paresis. He was referred by his primary care physician to our program back in April 2011. Robert says he had been seeing a gastroenterologist but the diabetes piece of his health was not being dealt with. Robert has no insurance though he does have a job he is unable to afford the cost of his diabetes. Robert states without the clinic he does not believe he would have gotten healthier.
He says that Dr. Valitutto has gotten him on the right track. Before he saw Dr. Valitutto, he stated that he could not stop vomiting and could not seem to eat anything. It took Robert 6 months for his body to recover after his initial visit with Dr. Valitutto. The Diabetes Underinsured Clinic (DUC) also provided him with diabetes education where he saw a dietitian that helped him with a strict specialized diet and a nurse that helped him to adjust his insulin to get his blood glucose back under control. His A1c which is a 2-3 month average measure of blood glucose readings at the start of the DUC program was 13.3 which is an estimated average blood glucose of 335. His current A1c reading is 8.5 which is an estimated average blood glucose of 193. While his blood glucose is still above the range that is recommended by the ADA, Robert has had a long road of healing his body which also contributes to elevated blood glucose levels.
Robert says that he has been impressed with the program ever since he walked into the Borgess Diabetes Centers office. He stated that all the office staff have been extremely helpful. He enjoys the shared medical appointments where patients share information about their experience living with diabetes. He says the information that has been shared has been really helpful. Robert has received patient assistance in the past year for his insulin and thyroid meds that have totaled $5139.70. This has been a big relief for Robert along with the covered expenses of the DUC program.