Alivio Medical Center and its Compañeros en Salud Team With National Experts to Implement Community-based Peer Support for People Living With Diabetes

Grassroots initiative aims to improve health outcomes of Latino Chicagoans with type 2 diabetes

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Janelle Davis
Public Relations Strategist
American Academy of Family Physicians
(800) 274-2237 Ext. 6253

CHICAGO — Alivio Medical Center today announced a new initiative aimed at improving the health outcomes of Latino adults living with type 2 diabetes. The project is a collaboration of Alivio with the American Academy of Family Physicians Foundation and its Peers for Progress program, TransforMED and NCLR (National Council of La Raza). The three-year project is made possible by a grant from the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation as part of its Together on Diabetes® program to reduce disparities in diabetes across the United States.

Mi Salud Es Primero, My Health Comes First is Alivio Medical Center's new peer support program in which peer supporters (Compañeros en Salud) are integrated with primary care to help patients improve self-management of their diabetes. In close coordination with the primary care clinical team, the compañeros will provide support and assist individuals as they put into place the plans set forth with their care team for managing diabetes in their day-to-day lives.

"Since Alivio Medical Center's inception, Alivio has embraced grassroots community health workers as an integral part of Alivio's mission and model of care; we at Alivio are very excited that Alivio has been selected to participate in the initiative which is an example of what healthcare really means", said Carmen Velásquez, Executive Director of Alivio Medical Center.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Mexicans are almost twice as likely as non-Hispanic whites to be diagnosed with diabetes. They also have higher rates of end-stage renal disease, and are 50 percent more likely to die from diabetes-related complications compared to non-Hispanic whites. Nearly 4,000 Alivio patients are afflicted with the disease.

Mi Salud Es Primero, My Health Comes First
will place a strong emphasis on changing behavior related to how patients perceive and manage their diabetes. This will be done through education, nutrition, physical fitness and medical follow up. Alivio will work with Peers for Progress, the global experts in peer support initiatives, and TransforMED, the national leader in patient-centered medical home (PCMH) transformation, to demonstrate how peer support can provide an effective way for the PCMH to reach and engage people in their care and to provide them the support they need for living healthy lives.

"This initiative is very exciting because it's all about linking quality primary care with the help people need for living healthy lives, 24/7, 365 days a year," said Edwin Fisher, PhD, global director of the Peers for Progress program and professor in the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. "The grassroots assistance offered by the compañeros will enable patients with diabetes to get neighborhood-based support from a person who has a real world understanding of the challenges they face and how best to overcome them."

Alivio Medical Center has already begun taking steps toward implementing the PCMH model of care. In the PCMH model, care is coordinated by the patient's personal physician across the entire health care system (e.g., sub-specialists, hospitals, nursing homes, etc.). At the core of this model is the continuous provider/patient relationship whereby increased patient engagement is supported by mindful communication and shared decision making all within the context of culturally sensitive care. Patient outcomes are measured through data within electronic medical records using tools such as patient population registries. Efforts to improve quality include use of evidence-based care guidelines and point of care reminders for recommended care.

"Physician-led teams can play a critical role in helping patients with diabetes make needed lifestyle changes, but most patients need additional support outside of their doctor's office," said Terry McGeeney, M.D., MBA, president and CEO of TransforMED. "We look forward to working with Alivio to ensure patients reap all of the benefits the medical home model has to offer, including improved access to care, better care coordination and management, and the technologies and processes that better enable health care providers to monitor patient outcomes and connect them to the peer and community supports they need."

Alivio Medical Center was chosen as the site for this project as an affiliate of NCLR. NCLR works with its affiliates network of 300 community-based organizations nationwide to counter disparities and improve opportunities for Hispanic Americans. NCLR is collaborating with Alivio project partners to develop promotora (health promoter) protocols and training materials, and will work with Peers for Progress to coordinate advocacy of sustainable peer support programs via a National Collaborative Learning Network on Peer Support.

"Alivio's Mi Salud Es Primero, My Health Comes First program is taking important steps to address a national health crisis within the Latino community," said Delia Pompa, senior vice president of programs for NCLR. "The community-based approach, which this program is using, lends an opportunity to demonstrate the strength of NCLR's promotora program and showcases how community involvement can help to combat diabetes in the Latino community. NCLR is delighted to be embarking on this journey with Alivio, Peers for Progress and TransforMED."

About Alivio Medical Center
Alivio Medical Center, a Federally Quality Health Center, is a bilingual, bicultural organization committed to providing access to quality cost-effective health care to the Latino community, the uninsured and underinsured, and not to the exclusion of other cultures and races. This mission is expressed through the provision of services, advocacy, education and research, and evaluation provided in an environment of caring and respect.

About the American Academy of Family Physicians Foundation
The AAFP Foundation serves as the philanthropic arm of the American Academy of Family Physicians. Its mission is to advance the values of Family Medicine by promoting humanitarian, educational and scientific initiatives that improve the health of all people. For more information, please visit

About Peers for Progress
As a program of the AAFP Foundation, Peers for Progress is dedicated to promoting peer support in health, health care and prevention around the world. Through research, collaborative sharing of program and quality improvement resources, and supporting advocacy it seeks to help the thousands of peer support programs around the world learn from each other, improve the services they offer, gain greater recognition of their work, and achieve integration of peer support as a normal, widely available component of health care.

About NCLR
NCLR — the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States — works to improve opportunities for Hispanic Americans. For more information on NCLR, please visit or follow along on Facebook and Twitter.

About TranforMED
TransforMED LLC is a non-profit wholly-owned subsidiary of the American Academy of Family Physicians. It provides ongoing consultation and support to primary care providers looking to transform their practices to a new model of care that is based on the concept of a patient-centered medical home. TransforMED recognizes and supports the unique value that primary care offers to patients and the health care system. It shares and supports the commitment of primary care to its communities and patients through continuing patient relationships. To learn more about TransforMED, visit

About Together on Diabetes® of the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation
Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation's Together on Diabetes® initiative brings together some of the world's most respected and influential health care organizations and academic institutions to develop effective, comprehensive solutions that integrate public health, health care services and community supportive services to improve health outcomes and reduce disease burden. Since its launch in November 2010, Together on Diabetes® has awarded $32.57 million in grants to 17 organizations working in 23 states and the District of Columbia in the United States, $1.23 million to two organizations in China and $1.6 million to four organizations in India. The total commitment is $115 million through 2014. You can learn more about Together on Diabetes® at