Providers at DePaul Community Health Centers (DCHC) join the entire healthcare community in continuing to express concern for people with underlying health conditions during the COVID-19 virus pandemic. Persons diagnosed with diabetes, heart disease, obesity, hypertension, and other chronic conditions remain particularly susceptible to becoming severely ill or dying from the virus.
Based on recent statistics from the Louisiana Department of Health, currently 62% Louisianans who died from COVID-19 had hypertension, 37% suffered from diabetes, 22% presented with cardiac disease, and an additional 21% were diagnosed with chronic kidney disease. Historically, persons belonging to minority populations demonstrated higher instances of being diagnosed with many of these comorbidities.
"Data has shown that patients with comorbid conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, and chronic kidney disease have more severe outcomes when infected with COVID-19. African Americans are disproportionately affected by these chronic medical conditions,” said Dr. Stacy Greene, infectious disease specialist at DCHC. “What is very concerning for me is that African Americans make up 33% of the population in Louisiana but more than 50% of the deaths of COVID-19."
DCHC’s patients with underlying conditions receive assistance through the health centers’ Chronic Care Management program, an integrated care approach to managing illness which includes screenings, check-ups, monitoring and coordinating treatment, and patient education. These practices are designed to improve a patient’s quality of life while reducing overall health care costs by minimizing the effects of a given disease.
Most chronic diseases are caused by preventable risk behaviors such as tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke, poor nutrition--including diets low in fruits and vegetables and high in sodium and saturated fats, lack of physical exercise, and excessive alcohol use.
“When patients learn how to control and manage their comorbid conditions such as hypertension and diabetes, their risk for poor outcomes will decrease,” said Sylvia Denson, RN, manager of DCHC’s diabetes prevention initiatives. “It is imperative that we provide everyone in our community with learning opportunities so they can thrive and survive in the face of this pandemic and beyond.”