New Public Health Watch report highlights critical diabetes crisis in East Texas

See why the high rates of diabetes across the state is one reason why EHF's new Strategic Framework now prioritizes food/nutrition security and diabetes prevention.

Yolanda Seaton opens a box of diabetes medication at her home in Tyler, Texas. Seaton receives diabetes care at a local clinic that serves the working uninsured. The access has saved her vision. Credit: Jennifer Scott, Public Health Watch.

Diabetes + little access to affordable healthy food + no health insurance = a critical health crisis in Texas.

“Diabetes probably underlies many of the ER visits for heart disease and stroke because the disease heightens the risk for both,” says John O’Hearn, former interim CEO at Sabine County Hospital in an important new Public Health Watch story about the alarming diabetes rates in East Texas.

The rural hospital clinic offers discounted prescriptions and monitoring equipment for diabetes. But patients often struggle to improve their diet, as inexpensive, healthful food can be scarcer, and food insecurity higher, in rural areas.

“If you don’t have access to a grocery store with really good produce that’s affordable, it’s hard,” O’Hearn said.

The story co-published by The Texas Tribune and written by Kim Krisberg and Hannah Levitan describes why access to affordable health care can mean the difference between managing diabetes well or suffering its most debilitating outcomes. The risks rise where diabetes and uninsured rates are high. 

The diabetes crisis in Texas is one reason why EHF’s new Strategic Framework not only doubles down on efforts to address the non-medical factors that impact health, but now prioritizes food/nutrition security, maternal health, AND diabetes prevention.

EHF believes by tackling these new priorities — along with increasing affordable access to quality health care services for ALL Texans — we can make the biggest impact in reducing preventable differences in health outcomes based on income, race/ethnicity, or where a person lives.