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Start a diabetes coalition.



The American Diabetes Association shut down its West Virginia office in 2008, despite the fact that the state had the highest diabetes rate in the nation. So any counties that want to start diabetes coalitions do not have on-the-ground help from the ADA. But Marshall University, with Appalachian Regional Commission funding, has helped more than a dozen counties start coalitions.

Some coalitions are going great guns. Others are inactive. “If a coalition depends on only one or two people, it’s likely to fail,” said Marshall University’s Richard Crespo, who helped organize all 12 coalitions.“Coalitions that include five to ten local organizations are still going. Broad community involvement is the key.”

A nonprofit coalition can give a community a way to apply for grants. But nonprofit status isn’t necessary. It can also be a way to bring together various community programs dealing with Type 1 and 2 diabetes.


What does a diabetes coalition do?


The Mingo County Diabetes Coalition is the state’s most extensive local coalition. Look at their Web site to get lots of ideas! You’ll see that thety involve a lot of the community in prevention of Type 2 diabetes in many ways. Their Community Advistory Board includes people from local businesses (e.g. pharmacy), WVU Extension, the Williamson Wellness Center, local government, the health department, housing authority, diabetic patients and parents of children with Type 1 diabetes, the redevelopment authority, the school system.  Here is a video/story the Washington Post did on the Mingo Coalition. And here is a PBS Newshour segment that shows a patient visit.

They demonstrate a wide range of things a coalition can do, by partnering with other agencies.

  • They identify people who do not know they have Type 2 diabetes at low-income housing complexes and rural areas.
  • They regularly put stories in the newspaper that feature the symptoms and treatment of diabetes.
  • They provide regular support groups for Type 2 diabetics.
  • They partner with the Tug Valley Road Runners to sponsor monthly low-cost 5Ks, Tuesday Night Track and almost-daily runs.
  • To advertise the daily runs, a staff member helps maintain the Road Runners facebook page, giving location and time of runs and constant encouragement.
  • They have partnered in the past with the Mingo County Schools to operate a running/walking program  as a long-term way to prevent diabetes.
  • As a non-profit, they applied for and got a CMS Healthcare Innovation grant that pays for workers who help do some of the above things.
  • In partnership with the Williamson Wellness Center, they make home visits to high-risk diabetics identified by medical providers, to help those people make healthy lifestyle changes.
  • They partner with Williamson Wellness Center to give high-risk patients vouchers for reduced prices at the farmers market, with an Rx for healthier eating.
  • They offer phone coaching through the highly-individualized Bosworth System.
  • People donate their diabetes-related books, mostly cookbooks, and the coalition puts them up for grabs in the storefront window.
  • They offer self-care and diabetes control classes.
  • They partner with area businesses, churches and other organizations to organize multi-county walking competitions, e.g. Walk to LA and  the Hatfield-McCoy 100 Miles in 100 Days Healthy Feud.
  • They do church mailings to more than 50 churches, including announcements of events, fliers to put in the bulletins and recipes.
  • They work with the local college and others on a farmers market and community gardens.
  •  They help write grants. For instance, they partnered with the Redevelopment Authority to apply for a new community health center for Williamson.
  • They partner with Southern West Virginia Technical and Community college on community greenhouse and student volunteer projects.

The key word is “partner.” Mingo is a coalition within a larger coalition that also includes everything from the garden club to the public schools and Williamson city government. “We end up being a part of just about everything, because we hear about everything, and diabetes touches everything,” said director Jenny Hudson.

In 2012, they got a $2.2 million grant through CMS. They also got a three-year Bristol Myers Squibb grant through Marshall University. “We couldn’t have gotten those grants if we didn’t have such a broad base,” said founder Vicki Lynn Hatfield.


Want to start a diabetes coalition?

  • “Appalachian regional model for organizing and sustaining county-level diabetes coalitions,” by Richard Crespo (Marshall), Health Promotion Practice 2011.  Marshall often offers start-up grants for 23 “distressed” counties.
  • A description of The Appalachian Diabetes Control and Translation Project, a joint project of the CDC, ARC, and Robert C. Byrd Center at Marshall University.
  • Here is the 2013-14 application form for Marshall’s coalition implementation grants ($5,000). Though it’s not current, it contains good information and a good outline for planning. This document includes the list of eligible 23 distressed counties.
  • Marshall University coalition-starting program: contact Richard Crespo, Ph.D.
  • See the page that tells how to start self-management classes that prevent and control diabetes.
  • This Charleston Gazette story will give you a detailed glimpse of the challenges.


Diabetes Coalition Web site? There are no really good all-West Virginia sites yet, but here are some models:


Have something to add to this page? Write it in “comments” below, with your contact info, in case we have questions.




  1. I am the nurse at Lincoln County Health Department. Our new website is up and running and we would like to get permission to add your link to our county Health Department website.

    Summer Beck.

    • We would love for you to add our link. Just saw this!


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