Diabetes rate high in the area

Published 12:48 am Saturday, November 26, 2011

FRANKLIN—The percentage of adults in Franklin and Southampton County with the most common form of diabetes is much higher than the state average.

Franklin’s death rate associated with the disease is also higher than the state average, according to the Virginia Department of Health.

Adults diagnosed with diabetes is 11.3 percent in Franklin and 10 percent in Southampton County. The state average is 8 percent, including 9.6 percent for Suffolk, 9 percent for Isle of Wight County and 8 percent for Chesapeake.

Dr. Nancy Welch, interim director of the Western Tidewater Health District, said these numbers most likely reflect an inability to seek care or medicine for the disease due to unemployment or poverty. This could include those who are self-employed and don’t have health insurance.

“That area has a high number of individuals who are uninsured either because of low income or unemployment,” she said. “It makes you not go to a physician as much as you should.”

Also relatively high for the area is the number of people who don’t know they have the disease until a symptom hospitalizes them.

In Franklin, the diabetes death rate is 43 per 100,000. The state sits at 19.6 per 100,000, Southampton 10.7, Isle of Wight 19 and Suffolk 28.2, according to the Health Department.

A new grant will pay for a nurse to help residents manage the disease, while another grant helps cover medication.

“In my 35 years in health care, I’ve never seen such a public-private partnership,” Welch said. “Local physicians have worked with the program and refer patients to the program.”

She said the programs help those affected by the disease get medication.