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Admist a Pandemic, Regional Initiative to Prevent Diabetes Carries On
Southeast Michigan Hospital Collaborative partners continue critical efforts even during the COVID-19 battle

Contact: Lisa Mason - Vice President, Program Partnerships, GDAHC


Bingham Farms, Michigan -- In the midst of the all-consuming focus on defeating COVID-19, partners in the Southeast Michigan Hospital Collaborative are quietly continuing their fight against Type 2 diabetes, under way well before the coronavirus struck.

Even while the world battles COVID-19, diabetes rates are swelling in the U.S. at an alarming rate. Diabetes also increases an individual’s risk for heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney disease, and loss of limbs or feet. More than 34.2 million Americans have type 2 diabetes. In Michigan, an estimated 1.1 million people – 12.4 percent of the adult population – have it. Diabetes also may exacerbate and complicate recovery from COVID-19.

The Southeast Michigan Hospital Collaborative (SEMI-HC) is working to combat this formidable disease by reaching out to those with prediabetes, to prevent them from ever getting diabetes. Prediabetes is a condition that precedes diabetes, where blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed with diabetes. Over 2.5 million people in Michigan have prediabetes, representing 37 percent of adults. Even more concerning is the fact that 8 out of 10 people with prediabetes don’t know they have it.

SEMI-HC, a groundbreaking partnership of the most of the area’s major health systems and a community-based organization, is working collaboratively to reach out to those with prediabetes in the region to enroll them in the evidence-based Diabetes Prevention Program, proven to help those with prediabetes reduce their risk by 58%. Through a lifestyle change program developed by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), participants get help from a trained Lifestyle Coach to make the important changes that lead to such dramatic results – including modest weight loss, increased physical activity, managing stress and learning how to deal with challenges.

“The SEMI-HC partners are heroes, continuing their fight against diabetes with commitment and dedication, even in the face of new challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Kate Kohn-Parrott, president and CEO of the Greater Detroit Area Health Council, which supports and facilitates SEMI-HC. “SEMI-HC’s efforts are critical in our region where COVID-19 hit hard on top of a long history of poverty, homelessness, and disparities, and where chronic conditions like diabetes put people at greater risk for severe illness from COVID-19.”

According to Cynthia Taueg, chair of SEMI-HC and vice president of community health for Ascension Michigan, “SEMI-HC partners are continuing their work in the community, while also balancing the need to support clinical demands within their respective organizations. Supporting the community remains an ongoing priority.

“Even with the temporary ‘pause’ of in-person Diabetes Prevention Program classes due to social distancing, SEMI-HC partners remain committed to staying in contact with participants and coaches, ensuring their important lifestyle change journey continues,” Taueg said. “In these uncertain times, with change happening quickly all around us, SEMI-HC partners are finding new ways to do the important business of disease prevention and ensuring each individual’s specific needs are met.”

The Southeast Michigan Hospital Collaborative is facilitated by GDAHC and includes:

  • Ascension Michigan
  • Henry Ford Health System
  • Saint Joseph Mercy Health System
  • National Kidney Foundation of MI

Interested in supporting the work of SEMI-HC? Donate now to GDAHC.


GDAHC is a nationally recognized Regional Health Improvement Collaborative (RHIC); a 501(c)3 non-profit, non-governmental agency whose purpose is to lead innovative and transformational programs designed to improve health, increase access to whole-person care and ensure that health care is affordable. GDAHC’s vision statement is simple: “Healthy people. Healthy community. Healthy economy.” Organized in 1944, GDAHC is the nation’s longest-standing cross-sector, multi-stakeholder collaborative dedicated to improving health and wellbeing in communities. GDAHC achieves the goals in all its work by collaborating with diverse stakeholders and specializes in serving as a neutral convening body for organizations with common goals, yet competing interests. GDAHC will continue its tradition of convening capable partners to develop new and creative ways to improve health care, with this project being no exception.

ABOUT Ascension Michigan

In Michigan, Ascension operates 16 hospitals and hundreds of related healthcare facilities that together employ over 22,000 associates. Across the state, Ascension provided over $270 million in community benefit and care of persons living in poverty in FY2019. Serving Michigan for over 140 years, Ascension is a faith-based healthcare organization committed to delivering compassionate, personalized care to all, with special attention to persons living in poverty and those most vulnerable. Ascension is one of the leading non-profit and Catholic health systems in the U.S., operating 2,600 sites of care – including 150 hospitals and more than 50 senior living facilities – in 20 states and the District of Columbia.

ABOUT Henry Ford Health System

Founded in 1915 by auto pioneer Henry Ford and now one of the nation's leading health care providers, Henry Ford Health System is a not-for-profit corporation comprised of hospitals, medical centers and one of the nation's largest group practices, the Henry Ford Medical Group. With more than 30,000 employees, Henry Ford Health System is the fifth-largest employer in metro Detroit.

ABOUT Saint Joseph Mercy Health System

Saint Joseph Mercy Health System (SJMHS) is a health care organization serving seven counties in southeast Michigan including Livingston, Washtenaw, Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Jackson, and Lenawee. It includes 548-bed St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor, 497-bed St. Joseph Mercy Oakland in Pontiac, 304-bed St. Mary Mercy Livonia, 66-bed St. Joseph Mercy Livingston in Howell, and 133-bed St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea. Combined, the five hospitals are licensed for 1,548 beds, have five outpatient health centers, six urgent care facilities, more than 25 specialty centers; employ more than 15,300 individuals and have a medical staff of nearly 2,700 physicians. SJMHS has annual operating revenues of about $2 billion and returns about $115 million to its communities annually through charity care and community benefit programs.

ABOUT the National Kidney Foundation of MI

The mission of the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan is to prevent kidney disease and improve the quality of life for those living with it. With more than a million people in Michigan affected by kidney disease, the NKFM works to provide lifechanging programs and services across the state. For the past 12 years, Charity Navigator — the nation’s leading nonprofit evaluator — has recognized the NKFM with its highest rating of four starts for success in sound fiscal management.