DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — A new partnership in the Miami Valley is helping better serve those with diabetes.

Health officials say diabetes is a big problem in Montgomery County at a rate of 14%, which is higher than the state and national levels.

The last two diabetes service non-profits in Ohio are combining forces to address the growing need for diabetic care in the region.

“We’re not there to cure diabetes. We’re there to help people through it,” says Chuck Gehring, President & CEO of LifeCare Alliance.

Diabetes Dayton has been around since 1963. It will maintain its identity, including its name, logo, existence, and funds raised in the Dayton region. It’s merging with LifeCare Alliance in Columbus, hoping to expand services and reach more people than they already are.

“We’ll still keep doing our emergency supplies for people who need them that don’t have insurance. We have free diabetes education. We have low cost A1C’s. We have resource referral and of course we have our diabetes camp that we’ve been doing for 57 years,” lists Susan McGovern, the Executive Director for Diabetes Dayton.

One million Ohio adults have diabetes. In Dayton, diabetes is the fourth leading cause of death for Black men.

“Diabetes really attacks minority populations,” says Gehring. “Black males are number one, as far as being attacked by this disease. The Hispanic community is huge in having diabetes, and we have to get to all of those communities, and we intend to do that.”

Lack of exercise or poor eating habits put people at a greater risk for getting the disease. They say diabetes compromises the immune system but can be mitigated.

“Diabetes Dayton–because of size–has not been able to get to everybody. We’re going to get to everybody. We’re going to get to everybody in the western part of Ohio,” states Gehring.