Community Clinics meet chronic health needs
The Medical College, Columbia St. Mary’s and the Holy Cathedral Church of God in Christ are partnering to provide preventive health care in a clinic adjacent to the church. Front, L-R: Clinic patient Thomas Tillman is seen by Brenda Buchanan, RN, Columbia St. Mary’s Parish Nurse. In the back are: Prentiss and Bishop C.H. McClelland (back far left and far right), the church’s leader; Christy Tolbert (center left), Columbia St. Mary’s Community Health Care Worker; and James Sanders, MD, MPH (center right), Associate Professor of Family and Community at the Medical College, who oversees the clinical operations.
Dubbed the silent killer because patients rarely experience symptoms, high blood pressure leads to death among African Americans at twice the rate of white Americans. It also causes higher rates of stroke, kidney disease, blindness, dementia and heart disease in African Americans.
When a Columbia St. Mary’s parish nurse learned that in the African American communities she served, more than one-third of those she screened had high blood pressure and went untreated, it was the catalyst for a new collaborative program. Columbia St. Mary’s, the Medical College and community advocates joined forces and developed the Community-Based Chronic Disease Management Clinic model.
Funding from the Medical College’s Healthier Wisconsin Partnership Program turned the plans into reality.
The clinics bring preventive health care to at-risk people in locations they are already frequenting, such as food pantries and churches. Clients have regular access to monitoring of blood pressure, blood glucose and cholesterol levels; medications; and education on healthy eating and exercise; all at no charge.
Since the first clinic opened in 2006 at the New Life Food Pantry, approximately 700 patients have been seen, with more than 5,000 patient visits. Nearly 90% were found to have high blood pressure. Today, patients cared for at the clinics reach their blood pressure control goals at higher rates than those with private physicians. Cholesterol levels have markedly improved for those with high cholesterol, and blood sugar levels have been reduced for those with diabetes.
In 2011 the program expanded, opening a second clinic at the Holy Cathedral Church of God in Christ.
James Sanders, MD, MPH, from the Medical College oversees the clinical operations and monitors and evaluates the data collected. Columbia St. Mary’s is responsible for nursing staff and medical services. The food pantry and church locations provide clinic space and client referrals. Other partners include: UWM School of Nursing, Sanford Brown Medical Assistant Training, New Life Presbyterian Church, and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Dental Clinic.
Together, these partners are tackling a problem that none could do alone.
Dr. Sanders is Associate Professor of Family and Community Medicine at the Medical College and is based at the Columbia St. Mary’s Family Health Center. William Solberg is Director of Community Services at Columbia St. Mary’s. Bishop C. H. McClelland is leader of the Holy Cathedral Church of God in Christ. Brenda Buchanan, RN, is a Columbia St. Mary’s parish nurse.