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Diabetes Prescription Program Targets Nutrition

Janice Simmons, for HealthLeaders Media, August 19, 2010

These prescriptions will be redeemable for discounts initially at a Walgreens found in a "food desert" location in the health center's neighborhood. Walgreens will be supplying a section of its store with these foods. The retailer, though, has also been s redesigning 10 of its stores on Chicago's South and West Sides, as well, to include an expanded variety of fresh foods and healthy meal components.

The pilot is an expansion of the Diabetes Collaborative—Northwestern's and Near North's 5-year old program that has been teaching diabetic patients how to control their condition through healthy lifestyles. As one part of that initiative, Northwestern Medicine researchers developed educational modules and worked with Near North to construct two, full-scale mock grocery stores at two of its community clinics.

"In the past, we used to help [Near North] by just writing a check. But now what we do besides that is sit down together and brainstorm about health issues—some of their most pressing health issues... and [see] what we can do to expedite care and in that manner [achieve]  better care," says Daniel Derman, MD, who is president of the Northwestern Memorial Physicians Group and vice president of community services for Northwestern Medicine.

In addition, researchers from Northwestern will be reviewing those patients who will or won't take advantage of the prescription program and see if this intervention in diabetes control makes a difference, he says. "This is one of the most exciting things in community service work that we're doing."

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