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Area clinics improve their diabetes care

Clinics in Minnesota and bordering areas like Fargo-Moorhead are doing a better job of providing care to people with diabetes.

The percentage of diabetes patients who met seven health goals jumped from 14 percent to 24 percent among clinics that reported data in 2006 and 2007, according to Minnesota Community Measurement, a St. Paul-based nonprofit organization.

"Groups are taking action to get improvement," said Jim Chase, executive director. "It does make a difference where you receive care."

Seven clinics in the MeritCare Health System saw jumps of at least 10 percent among diabetes patients who met goals for optimal care. Those goals include, among other measures, maintaining low blood sugar levels and blood pressure.

The clinics were: Downtown Fargo's Desk 35, Island Park, North Fargo, Mayville, N.D.; Perham; Mahnomen; and Blackduck, located north of Bemidji.

"They made a lot of improvement and that's good for people in the area," Chase said.

Innovis Health posted individual clinic results for the first time in 2007, according to a spokeswoman. Collectively, 8 percent of patients with diabetes in the health system met the goals.

Wanda Hanson, chronic disease coordinator at MeritCare, credits a joint program with Blue Cross Blue Shield North Dakota for improved results.

In 2006, specially trained nurses started working with diabetes patients at certain clinics to set goals and follow up with them.

The program is now expanding.

"Our goal is to get patients to manage their disease," Hanson said. "The patient is half the equation."

Research shows that people with diabetes who meet certain health goals are at a lower risk for complications like strokes, heart attacks, amputations and eye problems.

(Readers can reach Forum reporter Erin Hemme Froslie at (701) 241-5534)