KALAMAZOO MI– Dennis Channells found out he had diabetes during a most difficult moment: While having a heart attack.
Channells didn’t have health insurance and he can thank, in part, Touchdown for Diabetes, (an annual fundraising event established by Cole Community Solutions, Inc., a non-profit organization established by Cole Automotive Group) for the lifesaving heart and diabetes care he received at Borgess Medical Center.
Cole Community Solutions, Inc., recently presented a $60,000 check to the Borgess Foundation. Cole Community Solutions, Inc. has donated $175,000 to the Borgess Diabetes Center in support of uninsured and underinsured diabetes patients since 2009.
The 57-year-old rural area resident was in an ambulance on his way to Borgess Medical Center in the spring of 2010 when the paramedics discovered that he had a blood sugar level of 350, well above safe levels.
Bypass surgery then care from Borgess Diabetes Center professionals
Channells underwent emergency heart bypass surgery at the Borgess Heart Institute and soon thereafter was referred to the Borgess Diabetes Center where he learned how to keep his serious case of diabetes under control. “Borgess saved my life twice,” said Channells, a retired welder.
“When I went to the Diabetes Center and saw Dr. Michael Valitutto, (Medical Director, Borgess Diabetes Center) they immediately started to take care of me,” Channells said. “I didn’t have any health insurance then and they got me the insulin and the medicines and the needles–everything I needed. The people there were wonderful. I owe a lot to Borgess–I owe my life to Borgess–for how well they took care of me.”
“Often the underinsured don’t know they have diabetes until they have a complication, like a heart attack,” said Dr. Valitutto. “About 22,000 Kalamazoo area residents have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes and the disease is most prevalent among those with the lowest education and those with the lowest income levels.
“Diabetes can lead to heart disease, blindness, kidney failure and other complications,” said Dr. Valitutto. “Without appropriate care, including medications, the resulting cost of diabetes can be costly emergency intervention and too often devastating consequences for the patient.” Cole Community Solutions, Inc. organizes Touchdown for Diabetes each year. The event includes a silent auction and a drawing for $20,000.
For twelve years, Cole Buick-GMC-Cadillac (formerly Cole-Gilmore Cadillac-Pontiac-GMC Truck-Nissan) co-sponsored a fundraiser with the American Diabetes Association (ADA) to raise money for diabetes across the country. In 2009, with the economic downturn, they felt it more important to focus on the needs of the local community, resulting in a new affiliation with the Borgess Diabetes Center. All Touchdown for Diabetes contributions now stay within Kalamazoo County.
For more information on the Borgess Diabetes Center, visit diabetes.borgess.com.