Dr. Julia Sheen
Policy Advisor Health & Human
As part of Bryan-Roach Administration’s Healthier Horizons Initiative launched in January 2020, Governor Albert Bryan Jr., provided 2.9 million in grant funding through the American Rescue Plan Act to the V.I. Diabetes Center of Excellence and the Virgin Islands Healthcare Foundation. The Healthier Horizons Initiative brings together all of the major healthcare and public health initiative under one umbrella. There are 11 major initiatives that seek to:
- Increasing access to healthcare
- Modernizing the healthcare delivery system, and
- Facilitating the rebuilding of our healthcare infrastructure
Diabetes affects 16.8 percent of V.I. residents, and it is the sixth leading cause of death in the Virgin Islands.
Lifestyle is a major contributor to the high rate of diabetes in the USVI:
- 32.2 percent of adults 18 years and older are obese
- 71 percent of V.I. adults said they consume fewer than five or more servings of fruits and vegetables on a daily basis.
- 26.1 percent of V.I. adults have high blood pressure.
- 51 percent of V.I. adults do not do 30 minutes of physical activity five or more times per week.
Other factors include economic stability, education, environment/community infrastructure, lack of access to healthcare and the level of culture social/community support also contribute to the Territory’s high rate diabetes.
In his effort to improve the quality of life for persons who are living with diabetes or those at-risk for diabetes, the Governor partnered with the Virgin Islands Diabetes Center of Excellence (VIDCOE) to bring added healthcare specialists and clinical care to the Territory to treat individuals with diabetes, as well as provide increased educational outreach and support services.
The Virgin Islands Diabetes Center of Excellence (VIDCOE) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that is located at 4040 La Grande Princesse in Christiansted and is accessible online at vidcoe.org, and its goal is to prevent the onset of diabetes and its complications through health promotion, patient education, access to treatment and research. The VIDCOE will achieve its goal by implementing six strategies:
- Develop a comprehensive rural outreach program.
- Increasing access to certified diabetes educators through telehealth/telemedicine.
- Providing case management and chronic care management services.
- Developing a medication adherence program.
- Conducting ongoing outreach, public education and awareness.
- Offering behavioral health counseling for persons in need of emotional support.
VIDCOE hopes to serve 1,000 Virgin Islanders within its first year with lifestyle and healthcare services and more than 10,000 residents with its educational outreach. VIDCOE’s core team includes Dr. Arakere, Medical Director, Mr. Ganesh Prasad, MSc, Executive Director and Isatou Jeng, MA, Project Manager.
The Virgin Islands Healthcare Foundation (VIHCF) is also a 501(c)3 non-profit established in 2018 in response to healthcare needs identified in the aftermath of 2017 Hurricanes Irma & Maria. VIHCF formed to facilitate healthcare initiatives that empower, educate, and enhance the lives of the most vulnerable in the Virgin Islands community. VIHCF’s mission is to provide care to the underserved and those excluded from the healthcare system, and to help alleviate disparities caused by geographical location, lack of resources, and the Territorial status of the United States Virgin Islands. VIHCF will use its grant proceeds to partner with Dialysis Clinic, Inc to open an outpatient dialysis center and clinic that will provide services such as outpatient dialysis, renal dietetic services, and COVID-19 testing for the dialysis patients. VIHCF is located in the Plessen Vaccination Center in Sunny Islands on St. Croix in the old Social Security Office. VIHCF’s core team includes Dr. Jan Tawakol, President of Plessen, Mr. Rick Silver and Mrs. Aminah Saleem, Patient Advocate.
Together the VIDCOE and the VIHCF will collaborate to improve the quality of life for persons at-risk for or those living with diabetes.
The Bryan-Roach Administration is investing in the Territory’s people, infrastructure, and future through transparency, stabilizing the economy, restoring trust in the government and ensuring that recovery projects are completed as quickly as possible. Visit transparency.vi.gov