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Diabetes Patients at Metro Health Report Lower Hypertension

The majority of diabetic patients at Metro Health reported lower blood pressure levels over the past year – thanks to a collaborative effort designed to standardize treatment and improve health-care outcomes.

Metro Health and its 12 neighborhood outpatient centers, which are recognized as a Diabetic Center of Excellence, was one of 12 sites nationally to participate in a yearlong initiative led by the International Diabetes Center. More than 64 percent of Metro Health’s 3,500-plus diabetic patients reached their target blood pressure levels of 130/80 during the 2007 initiative, which reduces their risk for serious heart, eye and kidney problems.

Nationally, more than 73 percent of all diabetic patients suffer from hypertension. Left untreated, hypertension can lead to strokes, cardiovascular and kidney diseases.

"Our partnership with the International Diabetes Center has enhanced our ability to deliver unparalleled patient care to focus on the problem of hypertensions in our diabetic patients," said Kristopher Brenner, DO and chair of Metro’s Diabetes with Hypertension program. "We utilized a multi-disciplinary approach to develop a standardized protocol designed to aggressively reduce blood pressure levels.

"Our solution, which relied on medication and lifestyle intervention, was uniquely developed for Metro patients. The results have been quantifiable and will translate into better quality of life for patients working to manage their diabetes."

In 2006, Metro Health was recognized as a Diabetic Center of Excellence by the National Committee for Quality Assurance. NCQA, which sets the "gold standard" for health-care quality, recognized Metro for its work to systematize and improve care for its diabetic patients. To receive certification, nearly 40 primary-care physicians teamed with certified diabetic educators, nurses and other health-care providers at Metro Health to establish and refine standard treatment protocols for diabetic patients.

Over the past two years, Metro Health reported measurable improvements in the health of diabetic patients treated at 12 of its neighborhood outpatient centers. Diabetic patients treated by Metro saw decreases in blood pressure, lipid and hemoglobin A1C levels, which correlates to slowing the progression of heart disease, kidney problems and cardiovascular difficulties.

This just-completed Hypertension and Diabetes Initiative took a "nuts and bolts" approach to the issue, according to Frank Belsito, D.O., chief operating officer of Metro Enterprises and a driving force behind the diabetes initiative. National experts from the International Diabetes Center came to Metro Health to train its medical assistants and nurses on the proper way to take blood pressure. The IDC worked with Metro Health physicians and pharmacists to select and prescribe standard medications, and to set guidelines as to when to begin using them.

The initiative also involved dietitians and diabetic educators, who worked with patients to better manage their diets to reduce sodium and lipids, which contribute to high blood pressure and high levels of cholesterol.

"This standardized approach gives our physicians and health-care providers the tools they need to care for our diabetic patients, while still allowing for individualized treatment plans," Belsito said. "This initiative confirms the commitment and the effect that outpatient services can have on quality improvement goals."

Brad Clegg, D.O., a family practice physician at Metro Health who has been very involved with the diabetic initiative, added: "Metro Health will continue to look at innovative methods to treat diabetes. Our diabetes committee, which consists of physicians, nurses, pharmacists and diabetes educators, meets regularly to discuss new therapies, evaluate practice guidelines and make treatment recommendations available to all of our affiliates."

Results from the Hypertension and Diabetes Initiative were recently presented at the scientific sessions of the American Diabetes Association national conference. The results will also be published in a major medical journal.

Contact: Ellen Bristol, Metro Health Hospital (616) 252-5033
or Mary Ann Sabo, Sabo Public Relations (616)485-1432.


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