Congestive heart failure and diabetes are two diseases that disproportionately affect Black individuals, causing devastating health effects. In conjunction with National Minority Health Month, Atrium Health Navicent has announced an expansion of Atrium Health Navicent Healthy Communities’ Congestive Heart Failure and Diabetes Disease Management programs into Baldwin and Peach counties.
National Minority Health Month, observed each April, seeks to raise awareness about health disparities that continue to affect people from racial and ethnic minority groups and encourage action through health education, early detection and control of disease complications.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 11.3 percent of the U.S. population, or more than 37 million people, have diabetes. The CDC also reports that about 6.2 million adults in the U.S. have heart failure.
The Healthy Communities Congestive Heart Failure and Diabetes Disease Management programs were implemented in Bibb County in 2022 to help patients who were experiencing more frequent than normal hospital readmissions and emergency room visits. The patients served in these programs are considered high risk, generally have other underlying health conditions, need higher levels of care and struggle with socio-economic barriers to receiving health care such as having low income or transportation difficulties. Atrium Health Navicent patients who are identified by providers as being at a high risk for readmission or emergency room visits are referred to the program.
“The numbers reflect that this program works. And we know we need to reach patients in underserved and rural counties, who also may be facing health disparities and struggling with access to quality health care,” said Carol Babcock, an Atrium Health Navicent assistant vice president for Healthy Communities and Virtual Health. “Our goal for the expansion into Baldwin and Peach is to see similar results as we work to fill gaps in care for high-risk heart failure and diabetic patients.”
The expansion of the disease management programs comes at an important time. The American College of Cardiology (ACC) recently reported that heart failure disparities are worsening across race, ethnicity and sex. Social determinants of health — including bias and racism — impact cardiovascular care.
Black individuals are disproportionately dying from heart failure compared to other races and ethnicities, particularly among ages 35-64 years, according to the ACC. Compared to men and whites, women and racial or ethnic minorities are less likely to receive appropriate medical therapy. Race is also associated with the likelihood of receiving care by a cardiologist during an intensive care unit hospitalization for heart failure, and the odds of receiving care was the lowest among Black men.
“Atrium Health Navicent is committed to expanding access and improving health care for everyone, regardless of race, gender or socio-economic status,” Babcock said. “That’s why initiatives like the Congestive Heart Failure and Diabetes Disease Management programs are so important. We’re helping meet patients where they are, and providing the education and support they need to live their best lives.”
In addition to promoting healthy lifestyle changes and providing education about disease management and preventative care, program staff connect patients with community resources and provide person-centered care to patients who may be in the later stage of their disease.
“Our team lives the journey with patients and assists them with learning how to manage their disease process. With this success, they will have fewer repeat hospital stays, resulting in a longer life expectancy,” said Angeline Doh, manager of Atrium Health Navicent’s Healthy Communities.
Learn more about Healthy Communities at navicenthealth.org/service-center/healthy-communities or by calling 478-633-5623.