The nonprofit Neighborhood Health Centers of the Lehigh Valley has received Full Recognition for its diabetes prevention program from the Centers for Disease Control’s National Diabetes Prevention Program. This recognition makes it the only organization to receive Full Recognition in the Lehigh Valley (Lehigh and Northampton Counties), and the only Spanish-language program in the state.
DPP is a partnership of public and private organizations working to prevent or delay type 2 diabetes by participating in evidence-based, affordable, high-quality lifestyle change programs to reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes and in improving their overall health. The CDC recognition means that NHCLV will now be allowed to bill Medicare and Medicaid for patients attending its diabetes program.
In order to receive the official CDC recognition, NHCLV Health Educator and Lifestyle Coach Alicia Rivera had to collect data on patients in the diabetes prevention program for a period of 12 months and submit it to the CDC to help prove that it helps to prevent or delay type 2 diabetes. She also had to demonstrate that the NHCLV program meets certain standards, such as having a trained lifestyle coach and using a CDC-approved curriculum to ensure the program is of high quality.
NHCLV must also track its program results and send data to CDC each year to show that it is having an impact on preventing or delaying type 2 diabetes. CDC reviews the data and provides feedback to the program.
Rivera is a trained lifestyle coach who leads two Spanish-language group diabetes programs at NHCLV’s Vida Nueva community health center in downtown Allentown. The first is a prevention program for patients at risk of becoming diabetic, which just received the CDC Full Recognition. The second is a maintenance program for patients who have been diagnosed as diabetic. A second lifestyle coach is currently being trained to bring the program to NHCLV’s Southside Bethlehem community health center located onsite at Donegan Elementary School.
According to CDC, its recognized lifestyle change programs are proven to work and are based on research led by the National Institutes of Health. This research showed that people with prediabetes who take part in a structured lifestyle change program can cut their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 58 percent, and 71 percent for people over 60 years old. This finding was the result of the program helping people lose 5 percent to 7percent of their body weight through healthier eating and 150 minutes of physical activity a week.
Based in downtown Allentown, Neighborhood Health Centers of the Lehigh Valley was officially incorporated as a nonprofit organization in 2004 by a group of concerned community residents. Their goal was to meet the need for a coordinated system of primary care for the uninsured and/or underinsured residents in the Lehigh Valley. After obtaining designation as a Federally Qualified Health Center-Look-Alike in September 2010, NHCLV submitted a New Access Point application in November 2010 and was awarded a Federal Qualified Health Center designation and funding in 2012.
NHCLV operates the Vida Nueva at Casa Guadalupe community health center in downtown Allentown, and a health center at the Fowler Family Center at Donegan Elementary School in Southside Bethlehem, and a health center inside the Two Rivers Health and Wellness Foundation building in West Ward Easton. www.nhclv.org