Monday, August 08, 2005

Solano County gets grant for diabetes care programs

County gets grant for diabetes care programs

By Sarah Arnquist

- Solano County's community health clinics are raising the bar for quality health care.

The Vallejo and Fairfield community clinics provide preventative health care to the county's neediest residents. They are the safety net for the uninsured and homeless, said Dr. Ron Chapman, county health officer.

"Just because we're the place of last resort doesn't mean we're the place of last quality," Chapman said. "We think it's very important to deliver high quality care."

The county received a grant from the California HealthCare Foundation to launch a Continuous Quality Improvement Program in both clinics. County staff is working with a team of experts from the University of California, San Francisco, to measure current practices and set new standards for care.

The health care industry adopted CQI programs decades ago to increase efficiency, reduce costs and improve health outcomes, said Patty Porter, Solano County's project director from UCSF.

Fewer county health programs have CQI programs, though, because they require much additional work, Porter said.

"I really admire that (Solano County) stepped up to do this," Porter said. "They don't have to do this."

So what are they doing?

Right now, county health officials are analyzing how well they take care of diabetic patients. The chronic condition afflicts nearly 2,000 residents and can trigger multiple complications without proper care, Chapman said. After the data is collected, they will compare themselves to national standards set by the American Diabetes Association and identify areas for improvement.

The goal is to improve the entire system of care, Chapman said. Everyone is responsible for a patient's care, including the receptionist, nurse, social worker, doctor and administrator, he said.

Patients should receive the same high quality care at every visit from every provider, Porter said. This project is about developing the clinic infrastructure and changing the organizational system, she said.

Solano County has never taken on a project like this to improve quality, Chapman said. Ultimately, the goal is to use the lessons learned from diabetes care to treat all chronic diseases, he said.

Porter was impressed by the county clinicians' willingness to change and improve, she said.

"There's always opportunity for improvement even when you think you're doing the best you can," she said.

Reach Sarah Arnquist at 427-6953 or

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