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Advocating for Health: CT Health Leadership Fellows Address the Challenges of Diabetes Prevention

This guest post is written by Bonnie B. Roswig

Prior to becoming a Connecticut Health Foundation Fellow, I had little experience with the challenges of addressing Pre-Diabetes and Type 2 Diabetes.  At first blush the issue appears insurmountable. It is a phenomenon of epic proportions, with disproportionate impact on minority and financially challenged populations, exerting enormous strain on medical systems.

As part of my fellowship project, I became a part of a five person  team focused on Type 2 Diabetes and “Pre Diabetes” prevention.

The initial concept for this task force was driven by Leadership Fellow, Kristi Rodriguez. Kristi who had been part of United Health Care’s Diabetes Prevention Team and was steeped in the challenges of impacting Pre-Diabetes and Type 2 Diabetes prevention.  Her focus was examining and developing models of treatment and prevention that resonated with the community, could be embraced by the medical providers, and could be a deliverable of the public and private sector insurance community.

I gravitated to Kristie’s group partly because of her deep commitment and clear expertise, but also because this expansive understanding of the challenges of diabetes treatment was consistent with the challenges of addressing other medical issues such as asthma and obesity.

There was a direct philosophical connection for me with my work for the Center for Children’s Advocacy Medical-Legal Partnership Project (MLPP). The MLPP places lawyers in health care settings, such as hospitals and community health centers. Medical / Legal Partnership Project attorneys work directly with health care providers and their patients to navigate the complex legal systems that hold solutions to social determinatives such as “uninhabitable” housing, lack of access to healthcare, patient education, federal benefits for children with disabilities.

Delivery of health care is impacted not only by medical diagnosis but by the government and social systems that impact patient’s lives.  Failure of these systems to provide medical supports in an accessible manner significantly impacts the success of these supports:

  • If medical services and instruction for care and treatment are given in a language that is foreign to the patient, the treatment may not be successful;
  • If a medical provider’s office is not on a bus route and the patient does not have an automobile, the patient may not be able to access follow up treatment;
  • If medical advice and direction is provided in a manner that is not understood by the patient, the patient may not be able to comply with the medical provider’s directives;
  • If the medical provider is asked to complete forms that seem inconsistent with medical protocol, he or she may not be able to provide access to the services needed by the patient.

As our Fellowship project progressed, we realized that many agencies and talented medical professionals were addressing the issue of Type 2 Diabetes and Prevention; however, it was not clear that there was a clearinghouse for statewide information.

Our team goal became the creation of a central repository for existing information regarding research and programming around Type 2 Diabetes treatment and prevention. Ultimately it was determined that the information would be housed on United Way’s 211 INFOLINE, an agency easily accessible to the community and to medical providers alike.

Our model was successful but the issue of Type 2 and Pre-Diabetes is a continuing crisis and challenge. Now that the project is moving forward, I think I can speak for the original five members of “Team Diabetes” of the Fellow’s Class of 2011 to say that we are thrilled and optimistic that the strength, commitment and talent of the Foundation and its Fellows will lead to exciting and meaningful outcomes.

Bonnie B. Roswig is the Senior Staff Attorney of the Medical/Legal Partnership Project of the Center for Children’s Advocacy. To learn more about the Center and the Medical/Legal Partnership Project, go to


Photo credits: (Top Left) iStock (Bottom Left) CT Health Foundation

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