November is diabetes awareness month, a time to shine a light on a disease that has tripled in Americans over the past 30 years. We take you inside the Calcasieu Community Clinic in Lake Charles to find out about its diabetes management program.
Donna Harper has been diabetic for four years. While her diabetes is under control today, she left it untreated for three years, because of money. "I just didn't have the finances to take all of the different tests and everything," she said.
Donna's someone you could say "fell through the cracks" of healthcare. She cannot get insurance through work and her husband lost coverage because of a disability. Insurance premiums were just too pricey for the couple, so Donna prepared for the worst. "Just to have high blood sugar and anything could happen," she said, "amputation of limbs, heart attack, stroke."
Fortunately, Donna found the Calcasieu Community Clinic, a free clinic for the working uninsured, just in time. Sadie Shearman is a registered nurse and volunteers her time with patients in the diabetes management program. "Patients with diabetes are twice as likely to have a heart attack and stroke, kidney failure, we see issues with nerves, wounds," she said.
Shearman works with patients like Donna in education, nutrition and disease management for free. "It's free medical care and all of their prescriptions if they qualify, whether they be oral or insulin at no cost to the patient, blood glucose testing supplies and foot and eye exams related to diabetes."
Clinic coordinator, Tiffany Soileau, says the clinic has expanded coverage to include more people in need. "Up to 250 percent of the poverty guidelines, meaning a family of three could make a little over $47,000 a year to qualify for at least some of those services," she said.
Those services are something that Donna believes will help her live healthier and longer. "It takes a lot of pressure off, that maybe I'll live a bit longer, maybe I'll keep my fingers and toes," she said.
The symptoms of diabetes are feeling extra hungry, thirsty and tired after meals. To learn more about the diabetes management program at the Calcasieu Community Clinic and general clinic services, click here.