Pacific and the Abbott Fund address Stockton diabetes epidemic with community clinics
University of the Pacific and the Abbott Fund, the philanthropic foundation of the global health care company Abbott, are working together to change the trajectory of the diabetes epidemic in Stockton, where nearly 60 percent of the adult population has diabetes or pre-diabetes.
In its third year, the partnership is part of Abbott’s Future Well Communities initiative, a program that tackles the chronic disease crisis by addressing the social and economic barriers to good health.
Part of the Abbott Fund’s support will be used to leverage the student workforce and faculty expertise of Pacific's Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy to conduct community health fairs in Stockton neighborhoods that are facing the greatest impact of health disparities and diabetes.
The first health fair will be held on Oct. 30 at the Sierra Vista housing project in south Stockton. During the free events, pharmacy students will perform diabetes screenings, blood glucose, A1c and cholesterol testing, and refer patients to a Diabetes Prevention Program when appropriate. Abbott is providing its rapid testing technology and glucose monitoring systems for diabetes screening. Additional Future Well Communities partners will provide transportation, healthy food support and referrals to health services.
Other clinic services from the pharmacy school include COVID-19 and flu vaccinations, help with clients’ Medicare prescription drug plans and blood pressure and bone density screenings.
“Abbott and the Abbott Fund are excited to collaborate with University of Pacific and other partner organizations in Stockton to bring care to the community through health fairs,” said Suki McClatchey, director of global citizenship, Abbott. “There are many organizations doing important work to improve health in Stockton, and one of the key goals of our Future Well Communities program is to find ways to bring our partners together to have an even greater impact. These health fairs are an important example; together, we’re providing people with diabetes access to education and services that will help them better manage their condition over the long term.”
The prevalence of diabetes in Stockton is compounded by a shortage of health care providers trained in diabetes education and culturally sensitive delivery methods in one of America’s most diverse cities.
Recent studies have shown that when pharmacists are present in the treatment of diabetes, they are able to make recommendations and educate medical teams on best practices in diabetes care. Pharmacists also play a significant role in helping patients select medications that maximize efficacy and minimize side effects.
“These clinics will allow us to work with community members who struggle to access or cannot pay for health care services. They will also provide hands-on opportunities for our Doctor of Pharmacy students to help people live their healthiest lives,” said Rae Matsumoto, dean of the Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy.
Trained care-givers crucial to success
A primary focus of the Future Well Communities initiative is to build a pipeline of trained healthcare workers to provide diabetes care. Through the collaboration, the goals are to develop the university’s diabetes curriculum, establish new programs and ensure access through scholarships to support students who are committed to serving patients in Stockton after completing their coursework.
Pacific’s catalogue of diabetes-focused curriculum is vast. After partnering with the Abbott Fund in 2019, the university launched a certificate in Diabetes Essentials for Non-Clinicians through Benerd College and a Master of Social Work degree program with a sub-specialization in diabetes care and management in the new School of Health Sciences in 2020. In April, Pacific added a clinical certificate for allied medical and health professionals that offers continuing medical education credits authorized by the American Medical Association Physician’s Recognition Award. An entry-level Master of Science in Nursing program is planned to launch in 2022.
The first group of students receiving scholarships – called Abbott Fund Scholars – will graduate this winter and the second cohort started this fall.
“Without the Abbott Fund scholarship, it would have made it impossible for me to continue my goals and my dreams of becoming a social worker,” said Abbot Fund Scholar Leacha Clark ’21. “Having the diabetes concentration is going to open many doors for me and many others.”
“The difference that I hope to make in Stockton is to increase awareness about diabetes, especially within the African American community,” she said.
What has become clear is that addressing the diabetes crisis in Stockton is as complex as the disease itself, and will require proactive efforts on multiple fronts. Pacific, along with the Abbott Fund, is poised to face the challenge and create a healthier future for the residents of Stockton.
When: 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 30
Where: Sierra Vista Housing Authority, 2436 S. Belleview St., Stockton
More information: Call (209) 460-5076; email MedicareClinics@pacific.edu