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Paso del Norte Health Foundation and Hunt School of Dental Medicine Announce a New Diabetes Initiative for the Borderplex Region

Posted on Thursday, March 30, 2023

Hispanics are at a higher risk for prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes

Paso del Norte Health Foundation officials along with Richard Black, D.D.S., dean of the Hunt School of Dental Medicine have announced a new initiative to improve health care access across the Borderplex that will help prevent diabetes and empower residents with resources if diagnosed with diabetes. Diabetes is a serious condition that can lead to heart disease, chronic kidney disease, nerve damage, and problems with feet, oral health, vision, hearing, and mental health.

With both National Nutrition Month and World Oral Health Day being observed in March, the announcement was well-suited for the month. Diabetes is a prevalent condition in the Borderplex region, with 16.9% of adults in El Paso County living with diabetes, compared with 12.6% in Texas and 10.6% in the U.S., according to the Texas Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. Hispanics are affected at a greater rate by diabetes, with 14.3% diagnosed or predicted to have Type 2 diabetes, and 50% more likely to die from diabetes when compared with non-Hispanic whites, according to the American Diabetes Association.

There is a well-documented connection between diabetes and oral health. The dentist is often the first health care provider to suspect if a patient has diabetes because dental visits can be more frequent than physician visits and provide an opportunity for diabetes screenings and medical referrals for diabetes care.

The Hunt School of Dental Medicine and Paso del Norte Health Foundation have been an impactful and powerful team in the Borderplex over the years, tackling oral health disparities in the community.

In 2021, in celebration of the Paso del Norte Health Foundation’s 25th Anniversary, and its continued work to improve the health of the region, the board of directors announced an $11 million grant to the Hunt School of Dental Medicine.

The Paso del Norte Health Foundation’s $11 million commitment is made up of two gifts: a $6 million commitment in 2016 to support the startup phase of the dental school to develop an innovative curriculum, hire world-class faculty, recruit the first class of students, and help leverage state funding, and a $5 million commitment made in 2021 to support dental school operations and enable the school to be a leader in oral health care in the Borderplex.

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