AGH To Use $100K Grant To Expand Diabetes Services

AGH To Use $100K Grant To Expand Diabetes Services
Representatives from Atlantic General Hospital and CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield are pictured last week's check presentation. Photo by Bethany Hooper

BERLIN – A $100,000 grant is expected to help a local hospital expand its diabetes management program.

In an award presentation last week, officials at Atlantic General Hospital (AGH) received a $100,000 grant from CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield to expand services for individuals with diabetes.

The hospital’s Diabetes and Endocrinology Center will use the funds to expand its diabetes management program. Specifically, the expansion will incorporate care coordination and medication therapy management services to help patients better manage the complexities of diabetes, improving outcomes and allowing individuals to maintain a high quality of life.

Colleen Wareing, vice president of patient care services at AGH, said the grant funding supports the hospital’s mission to care for individuals in the community. She noted that 16.7% of county residents have diabetes, which is higher than the state prevalence rate of 10.2%.

“We are significantly higher than the state,” she said, “and that means we have a bigger problem and a problem we need to address.”

Wareing said the hospital has implemented education, prevention and support programs that have reached thousands of patients over the years. She said the grant funding would expand upon those efforts by identifying people with high blood sugar and connecting them to health care services.

Dr. Faustino Macuha, of the hospital’s Diabetes and Endocrinology Center, noted complications from diabetes can be severe.

“As we know, improperly controlled diabetes can lead to a bunch of different complications,” he said, “really effecting every organ system in the body.”

But Macuha said the hospital’s diabetes management program helps those in the community. He said the grant will provide funding for education, drug management services, and retinopathy screenings.

“A lot of patients don’t have regular vision coverage, and we will be able to provide good, adequate retina screenings for diabetic retinopathy at a point of care,” he said. “I think this is a really great option for our patients to have in our center.”

Julie Wagner, vice president of community affairs at CareFirst, said the grant is a way for the company to reinvest in the community.

“We really look at our community giving as that dividend back into the community,” she said, “with a goal of improving the overall health beyond our members, reaching out to those who are uninsured or underinsured.”

Wagner noted that CareFirst seeks innovative programs that tackle challenges within a community. She said the grant is the first step in the company’s campaign to address health issues associated with diabetes.

“We want to thank you all for the work that you are doing and the way in which you are doing it,” she said. “It’s just the type of thing we look for.”

Delegate Wayne Hartman recognized CareFirst for its generosity and AGH officials for starting the program.

“It’s great to see that we are doing something, to take the initiative and increase awareness,” he said. “I feel confident this program is going to work and that it’s working already.”

In an interview after the presentation, Macuha said the goal of expanding the diabetes management program is to reach more people and improve the health of those with diabetes and pre-diabetes.

“We hope to identify and target patients and make sure that they have that access to care,” he said.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.