November 27, 2007 (Milwaukee) — Columbia St. Mary’s, in partnership with the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW), has received a $450,000 grant from the Healthier Wisconsin Partnership Program to provide chronic disease management to the most at-risk people in Milwaukee’s most vulnerable neighborhoods.
The grant supports the Community-Based Chronic Disease Management Program (CCDM), and allows the Medical College and Columbia St. Mary’s to extend their commitment to the underserved by providing health care access in three food pantries in Milwaukee.
“Locating CCDM Wellness Sites in food pantries is unique,” said Bill Solberg, community services director for Columbia St. Mary’s. “Food pantry clients will now have a convenient way to access health care in conjunction with food pick-up.” Solberg will be responsible for coordinating the referral network and for overseeing project implementation.
CCDM addresses the prevalence of hypertension, diabetes, obesity and smoking as major health risks to low-income, central city adults. If left unchecked, these diseases, individually or co-existing, can lead to devastating consequences for afflicted individuals and the community as a whole.
According to the Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services, 10 percent of Wisconsin residents were in fair or poor health in 2004. Among poor residents, 24 percent were in fair or poor health compared to 8 percent of those with higher incomes.
"MCW's experience through its Saturday Free Clinic for the Uninsured has shown, time and time again, the limitations that patients with no insurance but ongoing health concerns, such as diabetes or hypertension, to name just two, face. CCDM is a project that really goes to the heart of the issues - breaking down barriers to access and care." said Jim Sanders, MD, MPH, Medical College of Wisconsin and on staff at Columbia St. Mary’s.
Dr. Sanders will be responsible for monitoring and evaluating the data collected during the project and preparing the final report. He will also facilitate the involvement of MCW students and other community partners including the Saturday Free Clinic for the Unisured, the Riverwest Healthcare Initiative and COA’s Goldin Center.
The on site portion of the research grant will be led by Dr. Clarence Grim, a professor of clinical medicine at the Medical College of Wisconsin and noted researcher in the hypertension field. A physician for more than 40 years, Dr. Grim has more than 20 years of experience successfully implementing projects like CCDM to serve the preventive healthcare needs of the African American population.
Dr. Grim will be working closely with Brenda Buchanan, RN, a CSM parish nurse who coordinates clinical services at the food pantry locations and Julia Means, RN, a parish nurse at Columbia St. Mary’s who has extensive experience serving the health care needs of indigent people in Milwaukee. Together, all caregivers and participants will provide screenings, as-needed referrals and disease management at the first CCDM site, New Life Presbyterian Church Food Pantry.
Participants in the CCDM program will be offered a variety of educational experiences. For example, nutrition classes will discuss ingredients of common food pantry items, emphasizing the importance of reading food labels to avoid excess salt, fats, calories, and sugar. Other class subjects will be disease specific such as diabetes self-care and the use of self-monitoring devices, the importance of monitoring high blood pressure; strategies for smoking cessation; and the benefits of exercise. Additionally, MCW students will make home visits to participants.
The program combines the effort of a number of existing community partners who are already providing health care and social support for Milwaukee’s low-income residents. These collaborators include: B.R.A.N.C.H. Out Churches; Columbia St. Mary’s Community Nurses; Medical College of Wisconsin Student Groups; COA’s Goldin Center; Saturday Clinic for the Uninsured, and Riverwest Health Initiative.
The project will be evaluated on an annual basis using established targets for treating those who participate in the program. For instance, the project will attempt to decrease blood pressure in 75 percent of enrolled participants. After three years, CCDM’s goal is to provide health care services for 2,500 low-income, central city adults with chronic disease such as diabetes, hypertension, tobacco use and/or obesity.
This project is funded in part by the Healthier Wisconsin Partnership Program, a component of the Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin endowment at the Medical College of Wisconsin.