LOS ANGELES, CA–(HISPANIC PR WIRE)–May 16, 2003–Today, Amigos En Salud program participants are joined by their families to celebrate an important milestone in their self-management of diabetes. The graduation event at QueensCare Family Clinic gives patients the opportunity to share their personal experiences and their collective triumphs during the past several months. Amigos graduate, Jose Alcantar states, “I now know more about how diabetes affects my body and by changing my habits I truly believe that I can live with the disease by controlling it instead of it controlling me. I was frightened when I was first diagnosed with diabetes. I worried that my health would only get worse, and that I would be making life difficult for my family. I learned that I can live with this disease but I need the support from my family to stay on track with my meal and exercise routines.”
Angela Camilleri, Amigos program coordinator at Pfizer Health Solutions, explains that “health promoters help patients build a toolkit so they gain a deeper understanding of their health and behavior within the context of their own lives. The sheer complexity of diabetes and the barriers to care that patients must overcome require a multi-pronged strategy. This patient-centered approach gives them a real chance at long-term successful management of their diabetes.” She added, “The results from our initial graduates are demonstrating improved clinical results in HbA1c. The average A1c among enrolled patients was 9.4% at the start of the program, and dropped over two percentage points to 7.05% – within a normal range – after working with health promoters for a six-month period.” Aggregate results from all the program participants will be available this fall when we expect the majority of the patients to graduate.”
In Los Angeles County, 16% of Hispanics over the age of 40 have the disease. Compounding this problem is the lack of access to health services: 45% Latinos in LA County report having no health insurance, 36% do not have a regular health care provider, and 54% report being obese, a major risk factor for diabetes. A recent study by the UCLA Health Center for Health Policy Research reported that Hispanics have “sharply higher” rates of diabetes than non-Hispanics and Hispanics over the age of 65 have the highest incidence (24%) of diabetes than other groups.
The graduates participated in a six-month diabetes education program that focuses on Latino cultural perceptions central to successful diabetes management. Health promoters, who provide peer-to-peer health education and support, work with newly diagnosed patients in-language and focus on cultural beliefs, behavior change strategies, and the use of health literacy-appropriate materials. Taken in combination, this strategy is expected to increase patients’ desire and ability to achieve health goals and behavior change that have the potential to improve the quality and length of their lives.
Edna Bush, RN, Amigos program coordinator at QueensCare Family Clinics, states, “participants don’t always understand that the diagnosis of a potentially life-threatening disease such as diabetes can successfully be managed for many years. The Amigos en Salud strategy combines teaching about diabetes, behavior change, and self-management within the context of the Latino culture. Program results to-date are encouraging and highlight the value that positive interactions with their health promoters have on treatment compliance.”
Alcantar affirms the program impact on his clinical results, “At 79 years old, I couldn’t believe that my own actions could produce positive changes. Once I lost 45 pounds, I knew I could do it. My A1c dropped from 9.7% to 5.5% in six months.”
The program was implemented at QueensCare Family Clinics in Eagle Rock, East Los Angeles and Echo Park. The Amigos en Salud Program was developed by Pfizer Health Solutions in partnership with QueensCare Family Clinics and is partially supported by The Pfizer Foundation.
“It is tremendously inspiring to see our patients empowered to make long-lasting changes in their healthcare management. We are excited to be a part of this program, together with Pfizer,” stated Terry Bonecutter, President and Chief Executive Officer, QueensCare. Bonecutter believes that culturally relevant education and patient empowerment is an important component of health care delivery. “At the QueensCare Family Clinics, we are working to integrate this model of peer to peer health education and support with all our patients.”
Created in 1995, Pfizer Health Solutions Inc (PHS) is the clinical informatics subsidiary of Pfizer Inc that merges technology applications with clinical care. PHS develops and implements solutions that help achieve improvements in the quality of health care delivery and in the operating efficiency of large physician groups, health plans, hospitals, integrated delivery systems, and community organizations.
The Pfizer Foundation is an independent charitable foundation established by Pfizer Inc in 1953. The Foundation’s mission is to promote access to quality health care and education, to nurture innovation and to support the community involvement of Pfizer people.
The Franciscan Clinics, dba, QueensCare Family Clinics, with its five clinics in central Los Angeles, is an independent non-profit organization, managed by QueensCare. QueensCare is a public charity providing health care to low income and uninsured working individuals and families residing primarily in Central Los Angeles. QueensCare operates a large grassroots outreach effort through the QueensCare Health & Faith Partnership which serves over 60 schools and churches. Through these two organizations, over 200,000 patient visits were provided to Los Angeles residents last year alone.
Hemoglobin A1c (A1c), a test which measures a person’s average blood glucose level over the past 2 to 3 months, is the current “gold standard” indicator of diabetes management. Bush emphasized, “landmark studies have found that every percentage drop in A1c cuts an individual’s risk for debilitating and costly diabetic complications such as retinopathy, nephropathy, and neuropathy by about one-third.”
Pfizer, Judy Brooks (212) 573-7897
Program, Dora O. Tovar (817) 467-5759
Program, Brian Franklin (202) 312-1098