March 27 is American Diabetes Association Alert Day

Charleston, WV (WOAY) – March 27 is American Diabetes Association (ADA) Alert Day and Quality Insights Quality Innovation Network’s Everyone with Diabetes Counts (EDC) program is working with patients, healthcare providers and community organizations in West Virginia to raise awareness, share information about how to lower risk factors for getting diabetes, and help those who have diabetes learn to best manage their condition for a healthier life.

In the United States, approximately 30.3 million people – or 1 out of every 11 people – have diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). There is a diabetes prevalence of 28.3 percent for people aged 65 and over with Medicare in West Virginia, according to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) statistics from 2015. Diabetes is also more common among people living in rural areas (at 16.7 percent) than among those living in urban areas (at 13.5 percent), according to the Rural Health Research & Policy Centers. Diabetes is known as the most common cause of blindness, kidney failure, and amputations in adults and a leading cause of heart disease and stroke.

“ADA Alert Day gives us an opportunity to reflect on the impact that diabetes has on the community and discuss how people can take action to make a real difference,” Natalie Tappe, Network Task Lead for Quality Insights’ EDC program, said. “The key message is that people can control their diabetes through lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise, and by following a care plan in consultation with their doctor.”

Quality Insights offers free diabetes classes through the EDC program, which is a national initiative of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). EDC offers a community-based approach that encourages participation and provides a structure to support people with Medicare in their commitment to managing diabetes.

The Journal of Health Promotion and Maintenance recently published a study of the program as it relates to hospital use in West Virginia. The study analyzed the impact of EDC on people with Medicare living in rural counties in West Virginia. Results indicated that those who completed the program had 29 percent fewer hospitalizations than those who had not completed the program. This resulted in an estimated savings of $35,900 per 100 program completers in West Virginia.

“There have been many studies on diabetes education,” Jill Manna, Director of Analytic Resources for Quality Insights and co-author of the study, said. “But most published research did not provide insights on the potential impact specifically among older people living in remote rural areas, and few have focused on specific cost drivers such as hospitalization on this population. This is the first analysis to focus specifically on this type of education delivered within the context of a state-based quality improvement program. As we continue to learn lessons about how best to recruit and educate people with Medicare to manage diabetes and document their participation in the program, this analysis presents encouraging early news.”

EDC classes typically last six weeks. Participants learn about diabetes risks, nutrition, weight management, how to properly manage medications and much more. Past participants have reported weight loss, improvement of lab results and a decrease in medications. In West Virginia, EDC classes are typically held in places like churches, senior centers, libraries, health care facilities and community centers. There is no cost to participate in the program.

In addition to offering free classes to the community, the program works with health care providers and community volunteers by training them to teach classes themselves. The program also engages community partners to support efforts by promoting classes within the community, donating meeting space, recruiting potential new trainers and much more.

“Through the EDC program, we bring communities together to learn about, prevent and control diabetes,” Tappe said.

To date, 518 people with Medicare and 289 others have graduated from EDC classes in West Virginia, creating a total of 807 graduates.

Visit for more information about the EDC program and for a listing of currently scheduled classes. Contact Susie Sims, project coordinator, by calling (304) 346-9864 ext. 3221 or emailing for more information.  For more information on ADA Alert Day, visit To read the study on EDC published in The Journal of Health Promotion and Maintenance, visit

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