Homeless Diabetes Patients Struggle to Obtain Treatment

Posted: Updated: Apr 01, 2016 11:59 PM

PHARR — People with diabetes come in all shapes and sizes and many have different life circumstances. CHANNEL 5 NEWS spoke to diabetes patients living on the streets of the Rio Grande Valley.

Michael Bell is Type 1 diabetic who is struggling to make money.

“I'm just trying to cope, get by, keep my head above water,” he said. “A lot of people give me change, I collect it. I appreciate all the nice, good people out there."

Bell lives under the overpass in Pharr. He said he can’t find a job. Due to his struggle, he’s forced to ask for money on the streets.

"I have neuropathy in my feet,” he said. “I'm trying to take meds for that."

Bell takes insulin and nerve medication for his foot. “It's pretty expensive,” he said. “It's like $250. You buy it over the counter."

The diabetes patients said he has to get help from a local clinic to treat his disease.

Moices Reyes Cruz also has a hard time getting the funds needed to treat his disease. He’s older and undocumented.

Cruz said his insulin container shattered. The doctor said Cruz can’t take one of his medications without the other. He said blood sugar problems affect him.

“It's like, if the sun was really strong, it covers up my vision,” he said. “Then it gets dark and then light. It hurts my head, my head trembles."

The Hope Family Health Center tries to reach patients with diabetes.

"Diabetes can, of course, lead to things like retinopathy, which can affect your vision,” said Jackie Valdez, a physician’s assistant at Hope Family Health Center. “Nephropathy can affect your kidneys, nerve damage."

Volunteer doctors help patients save costs. They take patients who don’t have insurance.

The physicians work out prescription discounts with pharmaceutical firms. They also make home visits to people who can’t make it into the Hope Family Health Center.

"It is a serious problem,” said Thabiso Batsell, program director at Hope Family Health Center. “And the only way we can do this is if we access the resources.”

Batsell said the center wants patients to keep coming in at least every three weeks. Some patients need to be seen more often.

Count on CHANNEL 5 NEWS to bring our viewers the very latest in diabetes coverage. For more information, visit our Heart of the Valley page.

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