Community Programs

With our location on Chicago’s South Side, the Kovler Diabetes Center has close proximity to a number of local communities disproportionately affected by diabetes.

Our programs have a dual purpose:

  • Improving diabetes-related health outcomes in some of Chicago’s most challenged communities
  • Advancing knowledge about the disease, treatment and effect on patients and their families that we hope to apply more universally

Picture Good Health/Imaginate una Buena Salud

Picture Good Health/Imaginate una Buena Salud aims to improve the health outcomes of those with diabetes in the predominantly Mexican American community of South Lawndale/Little Village, a Chicago neighborhood with diabetes-related mortality rate that exceeds both national and city averages.

The program was started by Arshiya Baig, M.D., a University of Chicago assistant professor and general internist whose research focuses on improving diabetes outcomes in Latinos with the disease.

Dr. Baig and her research team have partnered with two neighborhood churches to implement this bi-lingual program. Because the church often has an important role in Latino cultures and families, working with churches to address diabetes is one method of tailoring diabetes programs to this community.

Picture Good Health uses an innovative technique called “photovoice,” in which participants receive disposable digital cameras to document their lives with diabetes. These photos are then used in weekly educational sessions, held at one of the partner churches, to guide discussions on problem solving and self-empowerment.

The program has shown positive results in helping low-income Latino adults with diabetes reduce their consumption of high-fat foods and increase their frequency of exercise.

Program participants also have access to exercise groups within the churches, as well as patient navigator services through Taller de Jose, a social service agency that connects clients to community resources. For example, patient navigators can help participants find a local primary care physician.

Picture Good Health Imaginate Una Buena Salud

Improving Diabetes Care and Outcomes on the South Side of Chicago

Improving Diabetes Care and Outcomes on the South Side of Chicago is a seven-year project funded by the Merck Company Foundation, through the Alliance to Reduce Disparities in Diabetes, and the National Institute of Health.

Spearheaded by Monica Peek, M.D., and Marshall Chin., M.D. — both associate professors of medicine at the University of Chicago — the multi-faceted project engages patients, providers, clinics and community collaborators to improve the health care and outcomes of African-Americans on the South Side of Chicago.

The program implements four key components — patient education and empowerment, provider workshops, clinic system redesign and community collaborations — at six South Side clinics, including the Kovler Diabetes Center and the University of Chicago Primary Care Group.

For more information and regular updates on the project, please visit southsidediabetes.com.


Peer-to-Peer Program

This formalized program of peer support and encouragement is designed to help improve glucose control, as well as a greater understanding of their disease, among patients on the South Side of Chicago who are struggling with managing their diabetes.

Each patient participant is paired with a mentor — an individual with diabetes who has a similar background and medical situation, and has mastered the management of their disease. The mentor can offer support, understanding and, critically, share ideas about tools and approaches for glucose control.

Mentors undergo training on how to field questions, understand behavior modification, and other best practices in working with their mentees. The program also tracks communication touchpoints between mentor and mentee.

Measures of success include improvement in the mentees’ self care as well as looking at the ways in which mentors benefit from participating in a leadership role. Ideally, mentees may transition to mentors over time, amplifying the program’s potential benefits throughout the community.

If you are interested in learning more about the All-Star Peer-to-Peer Mentoring Program, please contact us at diabetes@uchospitals.edu.