The Lions Club International always has championed diabetes and vision causes.
The Fort Atkinson Lions Club continues that tradition with its used eyeglasses recycling, vision screening for school children, and now a special donation to Fort HealthCare’s Improving Diabetes Care for Healthier Communities project.
The project includes the Diabetes Voucher program, which provides teleophthalmology screenings for people with diabetes whose HbA1c is greater than 8 percent. Since opening in the first week of December, the program has screened 26 patients and referred 10 to local eye specialists. Eight were referred for diabetic eye disease and two for cataracts.
Dr. Yao Liu, UW Health Ophthalmology, presented the program at Fort HealthCare’s medical staff meeting in mid-January.
It is anticipated that there will be an uptick in referrals in the coming months as a result. Fort HealthCare currently is evaluating which of its other primary clinics will be priorities to get a retinal camera this year.
In addition to the teleophthalmology screenings, a new Pre-Diabetes Support Group was formed, helping people discover ways they can adapt their diet, exercise habits and other lifestyle factors that might lead to becoming diabetic.
A Comprehensive Care Management Nurse, a new position for this project, is helping diabetic patients assess their needs and prioritize ways in which they can manage their disease.
Examples include helping patients to implement changes in diet, understand the resources available to access affordable insulin, referring patients for consultation when other medications react negatively with their diabetic condition, and referrals to other services that help them manage the social needs that impact their health. Patients have seen improvements in their HbA1c as a result of this service.
Additionally, 10 vouchers have been issued to make this care affordable for patients. The funds donated continue to assist those who cannot afford care.
“Support and advocacy from the community are always important to encourage people to seek care in order to maintain their quality of life and health,” shared Dwight Heaney, foundation executive director.
Shawn Biwer, registered nurse, lead diabetic educator, presented the project at a meeting of the Fort Atkinson Lions Club last month. The formal check presentation was made a few days later.
The Fort Atkinson Lions Club met a donation challenge by Lion Jim Glynn in assisting Fort HealthCare in the purchase of a teleophthalmology camera designed to scan eyes for vision and vision-related diseases.
President Lion John Anderson added, “Aiding in the prevention, detection, and care of vision-related diseases is a primary mission of our Lions Club and Lions Clubs worldwide.”