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Abbott’s new Future Well Communities program works to fight diabetes by partnering with local stakeholders to address the social determinants of health.
Many people find doctor visits stressful. But for people like Frank — a longtime
resident of Stockton, California — just getting a ride to a doctor's
appointment used to be an ordeal in itself.
Frank deals with a number of daily health issues, including diabetes. In order
to manage his conditions, he has multiple doctors' appointments each week. When
family and friends were unavailable to take him, he often spent up to three
hours a day roundtrip using public transportation. Or on some days, he missed
appointments, which posed potential risks for his health.
Factors in our everyday lives that impact our health — such as Frank's lack of
access to reliable transportation — are known as the social determinants of
They include access to healthcare and education, the environment, economic
opportunity, and social factors such as social support and discrimination.
These social and economic barriers to health are closely linked to health
inequalities, as well. For example, research
shows that low-income communities
in the US are more likely to have unhealthy diets or limited access to quality
healthcare — which leads to lower life expectancy among low-income citizens,
compared to those with higher incomes.
As communities worldwide face the growing threat of chronic disease, they must
find a way to tackle these barriers to good health. Chronic diseases, also
known as noncommunicable diseases
are one of the greatest challenges to global health, today and in the future.
These diseases include diabetes, cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease and
cancers, and they accounted for 71 percent of deaths
globally and 88
percent of deaths in the
Our Future Well Communities program aims to fight chronic diseases by addressing
the social and economic barriers to good health. We're launching the program in
Stockton, working in close collaboration with local government, leading
institutions and community groups. Efforts focus on addressing the diabetes
epidemic in Stockton — nearly 60 percent of adults have diabetes or prediabetes
and 33 percent are obese.
Stockton is no stranger to challenges. Today, this city of 310,000 is considered
one of the most fiscally healthy cities in the state — a big change from 2012,
when Stockton was forced to file for bankruptcy. Since exiting bankruptcy in
2015, Stockton has focused on revitalization under the leadership of Mayor
Michael Tubbs, who at 26 became the
country's youngest-ever mayor of a major city. Today, local government, a
coalition of community organizations and residents across the city are guided by
a singular focus: Reinventing Stockton. Through Future Well Communities, we hope
to help advance this important work by supporting community efforts to address
diabetes and improve health.
Future Well Communities is based on a simple, but powerful idea: empowering
communities to break down social and economic barriers can improve health
outcomes. Through strategic partnerships with Mayor Tubbs and a number of
Stockton-area community groups, Future Well Communities is helping residents
address the primary challenges to good health in the city — including access to
health, education and economic opportunity.
Here's a brief summary of the components to this unique program:
Image credit: Abbott
Successfully managing a chronic illness such as diabetes often means frequent
doctors’ appointments. Many in Stockton, including Frank, face gaps in public
transportation; when available, ride-sharing services or taxis are expensive and
often unpredictable. Future Well Communities is supporting local nonprofit El
transportation program by
purchasing vans that provide free, door-to-door, non-emergency medical
transportation to ensure people can more easily access medical care.
"Despite a critical and growing need right here in Stockton, most patients are
unable to find reliable transportation and drivers who understand their needs.
The Abbott Fund-El Concilio Medical Transportation Service is filling that
gap," said Seidy Ayala, MTS Coordinator for El Concilio. "We launched the
program in July, and it has been gaining momentum with the community because it
is a reliable service for people whose very lives depend on making their medical
Type 2 diabetes isn’t easy to manage. Community Medical
Centers (CMC), a Stockton medical
clinic, offers shared medical appointments to people who have uncontrolled type
2 diabetes. This program is one part medical visit, one part health class and
one part support group. Participants attend multiple sessions with the same
group over time to make sure they have consistency in managing their diabetes.
With support from Future Well Communities, CMC is expanding the program into
more locations in Stockton to help reach additional patients who need help
managing their condition.
Future Well Communities supports El Concilio’s Healthy
which encourages families to focus on their health. Participants attend six
sessions — led by community health workers known as promotores — that provide
education and guidance on healthy
shopping and cooking; exercising, diabetes, and cardiovascular and oral health.
The Healthy Families program also teaches them that chronic diseases run in
families. According to the American Journal of Preventive
if your parents have type 2 diabetes, your chance of getting diabetes increases
by fourfold. To prevent diabetes in future generations, families must educate
themselves to reduce their risk and get healthy by eating more nutritious meals
and exercising regularly.
To address a growing shortage of healthcare providers, Future Well Communities
is collaborating with the University of the
Pacific to create two new educational programs: a new
diabetes certificate program to help community health workers gain a
concentrated diabetes focus, and a diabetes track for graduate-degree programs
in nursing and social work. And to help ensure the new programs meet local
workforce needs, the Abbott Fund is awarding scholarships to a select group of
community health students if they agree to work in Stockton after completing
According to research from UC
Davis, the San Joaquin
Valley is the most productive agricultural region in the world, growing more
than 250 crops — but many neighborhoods in Stockton don't have access to grocery
stores with fresh produce. We're creating economic opportunities for local
farmers that expand access to fresh, healthy produce in food
through a partnership with PUENTES — an urban farming
community located in one of the most underserved areas of Stockton.
Through Future Well Communities, Frank now has access to reliable
transportation. He can schedule a free van to pick him up at his home and take
him directly to his healthcare appointments. He is just one example of how
addressing everyday barriers can make a huge impact.
Looking ahead, we will continue to rely on collaboration and community
partnership to outsmart chronic disease in Stockton and make a lasting impact
across the community. By working together, we believe that we can all help build
a healthier future.
For more information on Future Well Communities, see our fact
For more information on our broader work to fight NCDs,
Published Jan 3, 2020 7am EST / 4am PST / 12pm GMT / 1pm CET
This article, produced in cooperation with the Sustainable Brands editorial team, has been paid for by one of our sponsors.