FREE BLOOD-GLUCOSE TESTS EXTENDED BY JEWEL-OSCO

MELROSE PARK, Ill. -- Jewel-Osco, headquartered here, has expanded its free blood-glucose testing program to more than 400 units.More than half of the Jewel-Osco network participated in the two-day program, held during the American Diabetes Association's Diabetes Alert Day this spring.While the chain has offered free blood testing over the past two years, it is the first year the retailer has conducted

MELROSE PARK, Ill. -- Jewel-Osco, headquartered here, has expanded its free blood-glucose testing program to more than 400 units.

More than half of the Jewel-Osco network participated in the two-day program, held during the American Diabetes Association's Diabetes Alert Day this spring.

While the chain has offered free blood testing over the past two years, it is the first year the retailer has conducted the free blood tests on such a large scale.

"The tests are designed to increase awareness of diabetes, and encourage those who believe they may be at risk of the disease to seek a treatment program," said Garry Bay, vice president of pharmacy operations.

"We hope to raise awareness of people to have their blood tested so they can head off the possibility of serious disease," said Karen Ramos, spokeswoman for the chain.

The blood tests were administered by health care professionals, with test results ready in 10 minutes.

The chain has integrated free blood testing into a comprehensive diabetes care program. Training of pharmacists in the specifics of diabetes care has served as a spring board for the retailer to deepen its disease-state management programs offered in the Chicago area. Two years ago, the retailer began training its pharmacists in diabetes care.

"Proper, effective management of diabetes requires a team effort, and a trusted knowledgeable pharmacist is an integral member of the team," said Greg Josefowicz, president. "Osco pharmacists receive specialized training and continuing education that makes them uniquely qualified to tackle diabetes' special challenges."

"Osco Drug pharmacists understand the importance of a comprehensive health care program for people with diabetes," said Bay. "Each time a person with diabetes visits a Jewel-Osco, they can rely on people who care to answer questions and fill special requests to help them treat the disease."

Another component of the chain's diabetes program involves a series of in-store seminars that provide basic education and instruction to those involved in managing the illness. This is the second year the chain has offered the seminars, which are conducted in March and April.

Seminar topics include an overview of diabetes, nutrition and exercise, diabetes treatment and preventing complications. This year's cost for a seminar in the four-part series was $30, reimbursable by insurance when the individual's plan covered it. Consumers who purchased a box of 50 or 100 Accu-Check Advantage brand test strips were offered one seminar in the series' free. Additionally, customers purchasing the test strips received a selected blood-glucose monitor valued at $60.

Take-home materials supplemented the seminar topics. Select locations offered the seminars in Spanish. Referrals for private consultations on issues including blood-glucose monitoring, insulin delivery and hypoglycemia were also available at the seminars.

The third prong of Jewel-Osco's diabetes program will be staged this fall when the operator hosts free store tours. The tours are scheduled to be held in conjunction with the American Diabetes Association's National Diabetes Awareness Month. As a part of the tour, registered dietitians lead consumers around the store reading labels and examining serving sizes. Jewel-Osco diabetes care pharmacists escort consumers through the over-the-counter medication and foot care aisles, addressing ingredient issues and usage suggestions.

"We not only want to provide customers with the products to improve their health, but also all the education we can give them to help them live better lives," said Ramos.

The diabetes program is supported with a toll-free telephone number for consumers who have questions about diabetes testing.

According to the American Diabetes Association, more than 10 million Americans are diagnosed with diabetes. Individuals with a higher risk of contacting the disease are those who are overweight, 45-years of age or older, African-Americans, Native-Americans, Asian-Americans, Pacific Islanders and Hispanics. Those who come from a family with a history of diabetes or who suffer from high-blood-pressure are also at higher risk.