Every three months, Reatha Rudd goes to the Center for Family Health in Jackson for diabetes check-up. She has had the disease since she was 34 years old.
"I was pre-diabetic when I was pregnant," said Rudd, 74. "About four years later, I went into full-blown diabetic."
However, she did not listen to her doctors and ignored the disease for 20 years. She ended up losing three toes because of it.
That is what the Michigan Department of Community Health is hoping to prevent by joining the Diabetes Leadership Initiative, a national project that looks to fight what many are calling an epidemic.
"Its main goal is to create more public and provider awareness of the complications of diabetes," said Anne Esdale of the Department of Community Health.
Roughly one million Michigan residents, or ten percent of the state's population, have diabetes. The Department of Community Health is working with the Center for Family Health on identifying kidney and eye complications in the disease as early as possible.
Dr. Rose Johnson works with many of the Center's 1,600 diabetes patients. She says the initiative will help them to conduct a special kidney screening called a micro-albumin.
"That helps us to find out if they have kidney disease earlier than we would see on a blood test," said Johnson.
The initiative will also help educate those patients.
Rudd says her kidneys are okay, but early education could have stopped other problems from occurring.
"There are so many people that don't understand it," said Rudd. "The need to know what to watch out for."
Michigan has the 15th highest diabetes prevalence in the United States and is one of four states taking part in the initiative. According to the centers for disease control, there are roughly 25.8 million people diagnosed with the disease in the U.S.