La Clinica community health worker Ana Maria Salaverry, right, talks to a patient about healthy eating at La Clinica Wellness Center in Medford. The Clinic continues to offer classes that help people manage their diabetes. [Photo courtesy of La Clinica]
Asante is reducing who is eligible for its diabetes education program, but other health care networks in the Rogue Valley still offer programs to help people manage their diabetes.
As of November 4th, Asante’s diabetes education programs will no longer be available to everyone in the community. Instead, only patients referred by a doctor in the Asante Health Network or those with Asante’s AHNPlus health insurance will be eligible for services.
According to Asante, of the 13 employees who work in Asante’s diabetes education and nutrition services programs in Medford and Grants Pass, some will continue to provide diabetes education while others will be transferred to other departments.
“It’s important to understand that, like most health systems across the country, Asante is making tough decisions to make sure we’re putting resources in the right place,” said Lauren Van Sickle, manager of communications and public relations for thank you
He said Asante is continually trying to hire employees amid a national shortage of workers in health care and other industries.
Asante bills insurance for the diabetes nutrition and education service programs, but insurance reimbursements do not cover the costs. Asante has been subsidizing the service, Van Sickle said.
The program became a virtual service in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Since then, it has transitioned to an in-person and virtual program, serving about 100 patients each week. The goal moving forward is to provide education alongside primary care providers, according to Asante.
However, many patients find it difficult to get adequate information about nutrition, cooking, exercise, and other lifestyle decisions during short visits to modern medicine doctors’ offices.
Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to serious complications, including heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, vision impairment and blindness, tooth loss, nerve damage, and limb amputation.
Asante’s diabetes education programs help patients learn about these risks, as well as meal planning, blood sugar control, insulin management, exercise and more. Staff members have included certified diabetes educators, registered nurses, a medical social worker, and a physical therapist.
Providence said it recently learned of upcoming changes to Asante’s diabetes programs in Medford and Grants Pass.
“This is a troubling development as the need for diabetes and nutrition education continues to grow, both nationally and in Southern Oregon,” Providence said in a statement in response to inquiries from the Mail Tribune.
Providence said it accepts most forms of insurance and patients do not need to be established with a Providence provider to seek care through the health network’s diabetes and nutrition education services.
There are some limitations on who can use Providence’s diabetes education services because of existing agreements with coordinated care organizations that manage Oregon Health Plan benefits. For example, AllCare, a coordinated care organization that manages Oregon Health Plan benefits, contracts exclusively with Asante for services in Josephine County. Providence also does not have clinics in Josephine County, Providence said.
“Providence is committed to serving as many patients as possible. As this is still a relatively new development, we are evaluating our ability to provide additional staff to serve the people previously served in the Asante program. We appreciate everyone’s patience as we work to address this need during a time that presents health care staffing challenges across the country,” Providence said.
Patients and providers with questions about Providence’s diabetes education programs can call 541-732-6955 or visit providence.org/locations/or/medford-medical-center/diabetes-and-health-education -center.
Diabetes education is covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and most insurance companies. Financial assistance is available for the uninsured, Providence said.
La Clínica is another local health network that offers diabetes education.
La Clinica’s education and support service The Learning Well offers a wide range of health and wellness classes and workshops, ranging from diabetes education to bereavement support and workforce training.
“People in our community who are struggling and need support and education have many resources they can tap into,” said Jillian Robinette, director of The Learning Well.
Classes that could be helpful for diabetics include Sugar Knock Out to eliminate sugar from your diet, Walking for Wellness and La Comida, a bilingual class in Spanish and English about healthy eating, she said.
Robinette said diabetes can take a mental and physical toll, but with more information about the disease, people can lead healthier lives.
“People often don’t have a choice about the chronic conditions they have, but you do have a choice to lessen the symptoms and the effects on your life,” she said.
For information about La Clinica classes, see thelearningwell.org.
AllCare Health has helpful information about managing diabetes at allcarehealth.com/medicaid/resources/live-better-with-diabetes.
Jackson Care Connect, a major provider of Oregon Health Plan benefits in Jackson County, has information on diabetes management and how to access support services at jacksoncareconnect.org/members/getting-and-staying- healthy/diabetes.
Contact Mail Tribune reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-776-4486 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @VickieAldous.
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