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The Future of Diabetes in Mississippi is Looking a Whole Lot Brighter

The future of diabetes in Mississippi looks a whole lot brighter with the recent development of
the Mississippi Diabetes Network and Diabetes Solutions services.

The vision for the Network developed from the initial success Diabetes Solutions had among patients utilizing its services.

Ole Miss alum, Dr. Catherine Moring and Jennifer Taylor of Charleston developed Diabetes Solutions as an answer for how they could continue seeing patients during the pandemic when in-person services were no longer possible.

From left, Ole Miss alum, Dr. Catherine Moring and Jennifer Taylor of Charleston. Photo provided

Moring and her team later received almost a million dollars of federal funding in 2021 to pilot test Diabetes Solutions and provide coaching services in a primarily virtual format to patients with diabetes and prediabetes.

Providing one-on-one diabetes and nutrition coaching services to patients with diabetes, the program has served almost 500 patients in 23 counties in Northwest Mississippi since 2021.

Diabetes Solutions coaching results in statistically significant and clinically meaningful improvements in A1c and weight as well as improvements in 30 symptoms over the first six months of program participation.

As Moring and Taylor were immersed in the development and growth of Diabetes Solutions, they began to see many other needs as it relates to diabetes care, management, and prevention in Mississippi. Together with Ben Bloom, a consultant of Tallahatchie General Hospital with ample knowledge of healthcare networks, and Jim Blackwood, CEO and administrator of TGH, they began to brainstorm and make plans to formalize existing partnerships and obtain start-up funding for the Network.

Over the course of 2022, Moring met with potential founding members, stakeholders, and partners, and together they developed a plan of action and deliverables for the Network. She then applied for the Health Services and Resources Administration’s Rural Health Network Development Program
grant in December 2022 and received funding in the summer of 2023.

The grant is a 4-year, $1.2 million opportunity to grow and sustain the network.

The Mississippi Diabetes Network will work to address and combat diabetes in Mississippi in many ways. Founding network members include TGH, TGH Medical Foundation, and the University of Mississippi’s Community First Research Center for Wellbeing and Creative Achievement, William Carey University College of Osteopathic Medicine, The National Diabetes and Obesity Research Institute, Baptist Memorial Hospital, North Mississippi, and Baptist’s Internal Medicine Residency Program.

The UM Department of Public Health is also a partner. Additional members and partners will be added as the Network grows and will include several membership options.

The intention is to grow the Network statewide by the end of the funding period. Some network deliverables, such as continuing medical education and courses for patients, will be available statewide, whereas access to one-on-one coaching services and screening events are currently only available to those in the 20-county service area. Payors, healthcare providers, people with diabetes, and their families and caregivers will all benefit from the Network’s services and resources.

The key purpose of the Network is to address the massive burden diabetes places on our state,
the healthcare system, and residents (and their families) living and suffering with diabetes and
its related comorbidities. As such, the Network and its members are committed to excellence in
diabetes care, management, and prevention strategies.

The Network’s key deliverables are to provide patient education, coaching, and resources to those with diabetes or at risk for developing diabetes; provide education and training to health care providers to increase the efficacy of diabetes care and ensure all providers are well-equipped and knowledgeable on the most up to date treatment protocols and management and prevention strategies; provide access to behavioral health services for those with diabetes; conduct screening events in worksites and community settings to improve screening and diagnostics to detect diabetes earlier in the disease process; provide follow-up clinical care and diabetes services; and promote changes to policy regarding reimbursement for such services in rural areas.

The Network’s overarching aim is to improve access to and quality of diabetes care through sustainable health care programs and services created as a result of the Network’s collaboration.

Associated aims are to demonstrate improved health outcomes and community impact, promote the sustainability of the Network through the creation of diverse products and services, and utilize evidence-based and promising practice models in the delivery of health care services. This funding provides the opportunity to build an impactful Network and to be a part of something that will positively impact healthcare and patient outcomes in significant ways.

The primary goals of the Network are to:

  • Implement novel and promising strategies designed to improve diabetes care and management at both the patient and provider level
  • Improve health outcomes and quality of life in residents with or who are at risk for developing diabetes
  • Reduce healthcare costs associated with the treatment of diabetes and its related comorbidities
  • Reduce the incidence and prevalence of diabetes in our service area.

The Network’s key personnel include Moring, who will serve as the Project Director, Claudette
Bibbs, the Network Director, Jennifer Taylor, Assistant Director, Dr. Stephen Farrow from
NDORI, Dr. Danielle Fastring (Network Evaluator) and Dr. Bob Bateman from the COM, Pamela
Crislip, Susan Wilbanks, and Betty Reeves, from Baptist, Dr. Seger Morris, Dr. Jacob Whelan,
and Dr. Reid Davis from Baptist’s Internal Medicine Residency Program, Dr. Meagen Rosenthal
and Dr. Annie Cafer from CREW, Jim Blackwood from TGH, Ben Bloom (Network Consultant)
from Affinity Healthcare, and Dr. Allison Ford-Wade from the UM School of Applied Sciences.

Stay tuned for more information about the Network and its deliverables and services.
Regardless of whether you have diabetes, the Network will likely benefit you, especially if you
work in healthcare or have interest in health and longevity.

The Network will also be developing an array of online courses that may be of interest to the general public with topics such as the gut-brain connection, the microbiome, longevity and lifespan, inflammation and the immune system, leaky gut, balancing your hormones, supporting menstrual cycle phases, and healing from within.

“We have a lot planned and look forward to serving our state with such incredible resources,” said Dr. Moring. “Everyone can benefit from the Network offerings, as not only will there be courses and coaching for those with diabetes, but anyone looking to improve their health, lose weight, feel better, etc. can learn and purchase state-of-the-art and engaging courses and webinars taught by highly credentialed experts in the holistic health and nutrition spaces.”

If you have questions or would like more information about the Network or Diabetes Solutions, contact Dr. Moring at cmoring@mytgh.com or 501-276-5459.

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