Diabetes Control in a Student-Run Free Clinic During the COVID-19 Pandemic

J Community Health. 2022 Oct;47(5):835-840. doi: 10.1007/s10900-022-01117-0. Epub 2022 Jul 5.


Student run free health clinics (SRFCs) provide medical care to vulnerable populations in communities throughout the United States. The COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on the delivery of healthcare services and demanded a rapid adjustment in care delivery methods in both resource-rich and resource-poor settings. The aim of this study is to evaluate the impact of the pandemic on the management of chronic disease, specifically diabetes. Patients with diabetes who received care continuously throughout the pre-pandemic (face-to-face) and pandemic (telehealth) study periods at MedZou Community Health Center, a SRFC located in central Missouri, were evaluated. This sample of patients (n = 29) was evaluated on six quality measures including annual eye exams, blood pressure, hemoglobin A1c, chronic kidney disease monitoring, flu vaccination, and statin therapy. Overall diabetes care, as measured by the number of quality measures met per patient, decreased by 0.37 after the onset of the pandemic. The median COVID-era ranks were not statistically significantly different than the pre-pandemic ranks (z = 1.65, P = 0.099). Fewer patients received an influenza vaccination the year following the onset of the pandemic (10.3%) compared to the year before the pandemic (37.9%; difference in proportions 0.276, 95% CI 0.079, 0.473; p = 0.005). No other individual measures of diabetes care statistically differed significantly in the year after the pandemic began. Twenty-six (90%) patients received diabetes care using telehealth after the onset of the pandemic. Diabetes care using telehealth in a SRFC may be an acceptable alternative model when face-to-face visits are not feasible. Observed decreases in diabetes-related clinical quality measure performance warrant further study.

Keywords: COVID-19; Diabetes management; HbA1c; Student Run Free Clinic (SFRC).

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus* / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus* / therapy
  • Glycated Hemoglobin / analysis
  • Humans
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors*
  • Pandemics
  • Student Run Clinic*
  • Students
  • United States


  • Glycated Hemoglobin A
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors