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Doc Talk: Diabetes center helps patients better manage their medications, lives
Dann Rutgers has a sensor attached to his underarm and a small device in his pocket. Together, those tools allow him to check his blood sugar wherever he goes. Rutgers is an active man. He is a hunter and fisherman and he has diabetes. Because of his lifestyle and hobbies, it’s important that he monitors his glucose.
“I used to look at it as a chore,” Rutgers said about managing his diabetes. “But nowadays it’s a lot easier.”
Rutgers was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes when he was 9 years old. He said dealing with it has been a struggle, but managing the disease has gotten better thanks to Dr. Michael Valitutto and the Borgess Diabetes Uninsured Clinic, or DUC Program.
“For what I’ve dealt with over the years, he is the best that I’ve ever dealt with,” Rutgers said about Valitutto, who is medical director of the Borgess Diabetes and Endocrine Center. “I’m in probably the best shape that I have been, physically, in the last 10 years because of him.”
“Can you imagine, life sustaining medications, that they don’t have access to? ... That’s why this is so thrilling and exciting, and he’s one of our great patients that we’ve been honored and privileged to help,” Valitutto said.
Valitutto was referring to one of the many benefits patients can receive through the DUC Program. The program has been available for eight years and has helped more than 600 patients get access to providers, medication and education. For those who qualify, those benefits are offered at no cost or at a reduced fees.
Before, because Rutgers didn’t have insurance, he said he barely saw a doctor and paid around $1,500 a month for just one medication. He requires several each month.
“It’s a struggle all day, every day,” he said. “But it’s easier nowadays than it was in the past.”
That’s because now he sees a doctor every three to four months and his medication isn’t nearly as expensive. The glucose monitor that he wears and carries is also a perk of the DUC Program.
“If it wasn’t for Dr. V, I’d probably still be doing the once a year, if I’m lucky, doctor appointments and who knows, I probably would be dead because maybe [I] couldn’t afford the meds," Rutgers said. "Don’t want to look at it that way, but the truth is they are life savers."