Making a Difference in MS: The Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi

By admin
November 18, 2016


Saving Lives Every Day!

Every 17 seconds someone is diagnosed with diabetes. The CDC estimates that 1 in 3 adults may be diagnosed with the disease by 2050. If diabetes is not well managed, it can cause serious health risks to almost every part of the body – the eyes, the heart, the kidneys, the pancreas, the feet and skin, just to name a few. The flip side is that with prompt diagnosis and proper management, diabetes can be controlled and its dire effects reduced or prevented. And yet, in Mississippi and across the U.S., unregulated diabetes is stealing the health and quality of life of millions.

mad-bailey-and-sean-patrick-1The Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi (DFM) was created in 1965 by a group of local Mississippi physicians to stem that tide by providing information about diabetes and disease management to health professionals throughout the state. DFM joined a national organization, the American Diabetes Association in the 1970s, but in 1998 DFM’s Board of Directors voted to break away from the national organization and return to its state-based roots. This change allowed the DFM to return to its local mission and expand its services at the grassroots level. Today as a result, every donation raised in Mississippi stays in Mississippi to better care for those living with diabetes by providing programs and services statewide that are literally saving lives every day.

The mission of the Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi is to prevent diabetes and associated complications as well as to improve the lives of every child, every adult and every family touched by type 1 or type 2 diabetes.

Well-Being spoke to Mary D. Fortune, Executive Vice President of the Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi about how DFM works “in the trenches” throughout the state advocating for and serving those with diabetes and their families.

“Our number one goal at DFM is to care for the 373,000 Mississippians who have diabetes,” explains Fortune. “The needs are so great, and so widely varied that here at the Foundation no two days are alike. Whether we are organizing a Diabetes Walk to raise funding for our programs, helping a senior get access to long-overdue treatment or making sure a child has the insulin they need, there never seems to be enough hours in the day.”

The DFM accomplishes their mission through support of comprehensive statewide diabetes education and informational programs, assisting families with newly diagnosed children, sponsoring Camp Kandu for children with diabetes and their families, providing camperships for Camp Hopewell in Mississippi and other diabetes camps, sponsoring educational programs for people with diabetes and health professionals, promoting campaigns to increase diabetes prevention, awareness and advocacy for all Mississippians with diabetes and providing direct patient services for needy families.

“What drives us every day is that there are people out there who can live full, productive lives, but there are so many barriers in their way,” adds Fortune. “In recent years the price of insulin has skyrocketed, creating a whole new challenge for people who need it to stay alive. It’s our job to advocate for them and the countless others with diabetes who need our help.”

As a testament to the many ways DFM is making a difference in Mississippi, Well-Being shares some excerpts from letters from grateful recipients of their services – people whose lives were changed forever with the diagnosis of diabetes, but have been changed for the better thanks to the work of the Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi.

When my sweet Maddy was diagnosed just over a year ago with type 1 diabetes, at age 4, I could not suppress the questions “Why her? Why me?” We have a special place in our hearts for the Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi. They have held our hand and led us from the time of diagnosis. And they still offer us tools and education regarding diabetes – from the generic “stuff you should know” to the latest research and the future of diabetes care. ~ Stephanie Mayfield

One day a young lady entered my 12 year-old boy’s hospital room at Batson Children’s Hospital and began telling him about how she, too, had been diagnosed with type 1, many years ago and had faith that like her, he was going to rock this daunting disease. We were so impressed with the work of the Foundation. Only a month after Aiden’s diagnosis we took part in their Mississippi’s Walk for Diabetes in our hometown of Columbus. ~ Karen Stanley

Our experience started when I took our 17-year-old daughter Madison to the doctor after noticing she was having extreme thirst, fatigue and weight loss. When we were with her at the hospital after her diagnosis, the Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi visited us with a backpack full of books and supplies, everything we needed, to help us with the new type 1 diagnosis. ~ Mrs. R. Edward Betcher


How prevalent is diabetes in Mississippi? In 2014, about one in eight (13%) of Mississippi’s adult population reported having diabetes.

How many Mississippians are believed to have diabetes? An estimated 373,000 adults, but only 37,206 know it.

What number of Mississippian’s have pre-diabetes? Over a third of the adult population or 37.5% have pre-diabetes.

What populations are at greater risk of developing diabetes? For type 1 diabetes – Northern Europeans and Caucasians For type 2 diabetes – Native American/ Choctaw, Hispanic, African American, those with a family history of diabetes, and people who are overweight or obese.

What percentage of Mississippians are considered overweight or obese? • 70.7% of adults • 40% of children ages 10 -17 • 15.4% of high school students

What is the annual cost to Mississippians for direct medical expenses related to diabetes (hospitalization, medicine, supplies, etc.)? $2.6 billion

What programs and services are provided by the Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi?

mad-img_2261_0• Parent-to-Parent Network – Informal education program designed to teach parents of newly diagnosed children about diabetes, its management, and available community resources.

• We Care 2 – The Foundation provides support for parents and children with diabetes. A special backpack full of educational information and fun is delivered to each newly diagnosed child and their family containing our Gund yellow lab mascot, “Sugar”.

• Camp Kandu – The Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi, Inc. hosts Camp Kandu, for children with diabetes and their families. The Foundation also provides funding for Camp Hopewell and Camp Twin Lakes, week-long diabetes summer camps.

• D.O.C. – Diabetes On Call, a free-to-the-public statewide education and referral program. The Foundation also provides classes in diabetes management statewide.

• Helping Hands – The Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi provides free emergency assistance with diabetes-related medicines and medical supplies to those in need. They also provide referrals to pharmaceutical assistance programs and other area agencies.

• “It’s Not a Sweet Subject” – A program for schools to educate teachers and other school staff about diabetes and caring for children with the disease. Schools having pupils with diabetes are given a box of emergency testing supplies and items for managing hypo/hyperglycemia.

• Professional Scientific Sessions – DFM is committed to quality diabetes care for all Mississippians who have diabetes. It sponsors an annual professional education symposium for primary care and family practice physicians, pharmacists, nurses, dietitians and certified diabetes educators (C.D.E.’s)

• Health Fairs – DFM recognizes the importance of providing diabetes education to the community and actively promotes the organization and its programs through community health events.

• Empowerment – The Foundation routinely offers blood glucose screening to high-risk populations (Senior Citizens, African American, Hispanic/Latino, Asian American, Native American).

• Advocacy – DFM helped to successfully pass a bill through the Mississippi Legislature to cover diabetes education, supplies, and nutrition education in Mississippi. The Foundation also worked with the Mississippi Department of Public Safety. It also got Medicaid to cover Continuous Glucose Monitors for children and adults, which will help keep them healthier.

• Diabetes Research – DFM is committed to finding a cure for diabetes as well as improving the lives of those with the disease. The Foundation has funded research grants at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

How can Mississippians contribute to the Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi? There are a number of ways you can help: 1. You can give a general monetary gift – or make an honorarium or memorial gift in the name of someone you love. 2. You can make a bequest or remember the DFM in your will. 3. You can donate to our children’s programs or to our Helping Hands for patient assistance. 4. You can donate funds to be applied wherever we need the most help at the time. 5. You can become a member of DFM. There are several membership levels from which to choose. 6. You can support the Drive Away Diabetes program by donating a car you no longer use. 7. You can volunteer to help with any of our many programs or events.

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