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Calgarians experiencing homelessness helped by mobile diabetes screening program

A collaborative effort between Telus, The Alex Community Health Centre and the University of Calgary is bringing mobile diabetes screening directly to the city's marginalized communities. A collaborative effort between Telus, The Alex Community Health Centre and the University of Calgary is bringing mobile diabetes screening directly to the city's marginalized communities.
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A collaborative effort between Telus, The Alex Community Health Centre and the University of Calgary is bringing mobile diabetes screening directly to the city's marginalized communities.

It is estimated that one in five people experiencing homelessness also has diabetes.

The pilot program, funded by Telus and operated out of The Alex Mobile Care Clinic van, targets the specific needs of Calgary's most vulnerable.

"We are leveraging our technological and human innovation to improve health outcomes," said Nimmi Kanji, director of social purpose programs at Telus.

"These programs remove barriers for underserved Calgarians by providing critical healthcare services directly to the communities in need."

Joy Bowen-Eyre, executive director at The Alex, says the diabetes program builds upon The Alex Mobile Care Clinic's existing services, which have chalked up more than 5,000 patient visits since launched in 2022.

The Alex’s van is now equipped with tools to quickly measure a patients HbA1c levels – which are considered a key indicator of diabetic control – and a retinal scanner, which can aid in diagnosing retinopathy – a common diabetic complication, that can lead to blindness if left untreated.

"The diabetes pilot program will allow us to extend our reach and enhance care for vulnerable populations," said Bowen-Eyre.

"By building knowledge and skills, we are taking a crucial step toward improving health outcomes."

The University of Calgary partnered with the Calgary Diabetes Advocacy Committee (CDAC) to administer the two-year pilot program.

Associate professor and consultant endocrinologist Dr. David Campbell says unhoused Calgarians don’t just face financial barriers to proper care, but logistical issues as well, because diabetic care often requires visiting multiple care providers.

"Through our previous outreach program, we saw the need for more accessible care," said Campbell.

"The Mobile Care Clinic allows us to offer full-service diabetes care to those facing barriers in traditional settings."

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