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Reducing Diabetes Complications in Tillamook County

Diabetes, 2019

David Butler RetinaVue donation Adventist Health Tillamook has taken a new step to reduce the risk of diabetic complications in Tillamook County. The Rinehart Clinic and Tillamook County Community Health Centers each have received a Welch Allyn RetinaVue eye imager that was donated through of the medical center’s community benefit program to aid in the early detection of diabetic retinopathy.

Diabetic retinopathy is a disease that damages the blood vessels of the eye’s retina. The National Eye Institute estimates 40 to 45 percent of people with diabetes develop some amount of diabetic retinopathy. Because early stages of the disease often have no symptoms, only about half of sufferers are aware they have the condition. Early detection and treatment decreases reduces the risk of blindness by 95%.

With the medical center’s donation, combined with the RetinaVue units already in Adventist Health Tillamook clinics, Tillamook residents have easy access to retinopathy screening in their primary care office. “It will make such a difference to our patients with diabetes to be able to have their diabetic retinal exams right here at Rinehart Clinic without having to travel to another facility,” says Gail Nelson, Rinehart Clinic CEO. “We are grateful to Adventist Health for providing us with this important technology and look forward to continuing our partnership focused on improving the health of the Tillamook County community.”

Nearly 12 percent of residents in Tillamook County have been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Many more are not yet diagnosed or are at risk of developing the disease, including an increasing number of young people. This means a large number of the county’s residents are at risk of diabetic retinopathy, which can lead to blindness if undiagnosed and untreated.

“Adventist Health’s donation of Retinavue cameras to our clinics allows us to provide even better care to our patients diagnosed with diabetes,“ says Marlene Putman, Tillamook County Community Health Centers administrator. “A diabetes diagnosis can be scary. This new tool provides an added sense of security by allowing us to detect eye care needs early and to streamline care coordination between the patient’s primary care provider and their eye doctor.”

Community benefit donations like this are one way that Adventist Health lives out its mission of healing and hope. “Our mission is to live God’s love by inspiring health, wholeness and hope. What better way to inspire wholeness than to help diabetic patients get early detection of eye disease, which in turn gives them the best chance of preventing blindness?” says David Butler, Adventist Health Tillamook president.