Laurryn Thomas – Greenville News
BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina announced in a release Monday that they have awarded $11.6 millionin grants to Diabetes Free S.C.
Several healthcare providers in the state have been grant recipients of Diabetes Free S.C., a multi-million dollar project to improve diabetes healthcare.
The grant money will be split between Prisma Health, the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), the Alliance for a Healthier Generation and FoodShareSC.
“It’s connecting different health systems across the state to collaborate and provide consistent, standardized care to improve outcomes,” said Hannah White, a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator at Prisma.
According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), 35% of adults in South Carolina are pre-diabetic and 500,000 South Carolinians are diagnosed with diabetes.
The main objectives for the grant are improving pregnancy outcomes for women with diabetes, reducing diabetes risks in children and diabetes prevention for adults.
At Prisma Health in the Upstate, a group of doctors and experts wrote their grant to focus on improving pregnancy outcomes.
Dr. Megan Shellinger, Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialist and Medical Director of the OB Center for Prisma Health Upstate, helped write the grant at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. Her team was awarded $1.5 million of the BlueCross BlueShield grant.
“The benefit of this grant is that they will have all of their care partners in the same clinic,” said Shellinger. “And we’re able to reach patients who haven’t necessarily had access to all of the latest technology and all of the specialists that they need, so this really gives us the opportunity for a holistic care model for these patients.”
Additionally, the cost of care for diabetics in South Carolina can be a barrier for many. In 2017, the ADA reported that the annual cost of care for diabetics in the state was $5.89 billion.
“For some of our patients, insulin is one of the things that they need to survive, so this grant is going to be able to provide that to those patients in need as well as making their lives easier with access to diabetes technology, such as continuous glucose monitors, insulin pumps and those sorts of therapies,” said White.
Part of their diabetes prevention will even include supplying food to patients with food insecurity or without access to healthy options that are essential to preventing and treating Type- 2 diabetes through the FoodShareSC program.
Additionally, Prisma will offer telehealth and virtual medicine to patients with transportation issues and in order to reach more counties, according to Shellinger.
“It will just be such a blessing to our patients because this is what they truly need,” said Shellinger. “They get access to the medications they need the specialists they need, as well as the latest technology, and it will be equal across the state of South Carolina.”