The Volunteers in Medicine (VIM) clinic in Bend announced a new program Tuesday aimed at making life easier for low-income diabetes patients. The clinic received a $21,000 grant, giving it the ability to offer cutting edge treatment for free to qualifying patients.
“It’s helped me a lot. It wasn’t something I was aware of and they offered it here to me,” said a diabetic patient who wished to remain anonymous.
“We’re able to offer this technology to this population. It’s something they normally would not have access to without the funds we’re receiving at this time,” said VIM Diabetic Care Coordinator Kimberly Drew.
The program also focuses on culturally sensitive health care, catering to marginalized groups in Central Oregon.
“They’re the ones who likely don’t qualify for insurance,” Drew said. “A lot of our patients are Spanish speaking, which is why they wanted a bilingual nurse here in the clinic, so we can talk naturally between me and the patients.”
The treatment uses continuous glucose monitoring devices — patches that adhere to the patient’s arm — sending live blood sugar readings to their phone and the clinic. The patch only needs to be replaced once every two weeks, allowing users to bypass daily finger pricks.
While the technology itself isn’t new, it’s life changing for those who couldn’t otherwise afford it.
“Before, I would just get home and eat whatever I wanted without knowing how it affected my blood sugar. And now, my body’s feeling a bit better. I’m not as tired and I have a little bit more energy,” the patient said.
The program began as a pilot trial. VIM Executive Director Kat Mastrangelo says it has become incredibly successful in Bend.
“Based on the success of the pilot that we had, we went to the Coverys Foundation for funding. When we were awarded the grant, we got a call from the leaders of the foundation to let us know not only were we rewarded the grant, but that of all the grants they had received across the country, ours had scored the very highest,” Mastrangelo said.
To qualify, patients must be low income, employed, uninsured and ineligible for insurance.
VIM is taking applications for the program now.