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Ellsworth clinic's diabetes effort draws national attention

ELLSWORTH, Wis. - The Ellsworth Medical Clinic here has received national publicity for its efforts to track the health of its diabetes patients.

The clinic's unique approach was written about in a story in The Wall Street Journal published on Tuesday.

"They wanted to show how you don't have to be part of a huge medical system to be successful," said Dr. Chris Tashjian about the story.

Tashjian said the clinic's effort began when a group of area physicians set standards for their diabetes patients, including not smoking, maintaining healthy blood pressure and blood sugar levels, controlling bad cholesterol and using aspirin. And now those efforts are paying off as the health of many of their patients improves.

Tashjian said in the middle of this decade, not many of the clinic's diabetes patients were achieving their goals set by the physicians. But in 2005 when clinic officials implemented a computerized registry to regularly monitoring the patients' efforts, the number of patients hitting their goals dramatically increased.

In the WSJ story, Tashjian credits the clinic's staff for the effort, which he explained is funded by Minnesota Community Measurement. The story adds that Tahjian said the staff involvement in the tracking extends from the clinic's secretary to the nurse to the lab tech to the physician's assistant to the doctors.

"It's everyone's responsibility here to stay up-to-date...we're doing it as a team," he is quoted as saying in the WSJ story.

The WSJ story also relates similar experiences of Quello Clinic and Allina Medical Clinic in the Twin Cities, the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., a Fairview Medical Group clinic in Bloomington, Minn., and HealthEast Care System in St. Paul.

Bill Kirk is a reporter for The Pierce County (Wis.) Herald, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.