Juniper and the Minnesota Department of Health Work Together to Prevent Chronic Diseases in Our State


Juniper and the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) are collaborating to improve the health and well-being of Minnesotans. Together, the organizations are implementing an evidence-based Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) that has proven to reduce a person’s chance of developing type 2 diabetes by 58%.

Older woman doing exercises and smiling

The Diabetes Prevention Program is for people who are prediabetic and at risk for type 2 diabetes who are motivated to eat better, move more, lose weight, and live a healthier life. Over the course of one year, the results could make a significant difference in quality of life. The formula is simple, yet effective:

  1. Eat healthier
  2. Increase your physical activity to 150 minutes per week
  3. Reduce your body weight by 5-7%
  4. Manage stress, solve problems, and avoid negative thoughts
  5. Stay motivated

Type 2 diabetes is on the rise in the United States. According to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), about 90-95% of all Minnesota diabetes cases are type 2, and approximately 24,000 new cases are diagnosed annually (source). 1 in 3 adults in Minnesota has prediabetes, a condition that occurs when someone’s blood glucose (sugar) level is too high, but not high enough yet to be considered type 2 diabetes. More than 84% of people with prediabetes don’t know they have it. Without taking action, many people with prediabetes could develop type 2 diabetes within five years.

Creating the Partnership

Designed for people with who wish to prevent developing type 2 diabetes, the Diabetes Prevention Program is a community-based, lifestyle change program that can cut the risk of diabetes in half.In 2016, Medicare approved the National Diabetes Prevention Program as a Medicare Part B benefit. When MDH received funding from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for a diabetes program to expand their Medicare-approved health promotion unit for diabetes, they were in a position to find a partner to help them in Minnesota. Juniper already had relationships with health plans and community organizations and was known for bringing innovation and an ability to sustain programs.

To kick things off, Trellis, the organization that leads Juniper, was designated to serve as an “umbrella hub” that manages the process, including becoming a Medicare supplier. MDH worked with the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) to secure reimbursement from Medicaid Services at the state level to provide sustainable funding for Juniper’s work with the program. As a result, Juniper and the MDH moved forward with their partnership to help prevent type 2 diabetes in our state.

Teresa Ambroz, manager of the Diabetes and Health Behavior Unit of the MDH, says she was pleased to find Juniper, who already had culturally respected community partners and had the needed systems in place. “This is a positive partnership,” she says. “Through trusted relationships with Minnesota community partners like Juniper and others, we can increase access to programs and services that are proven to improve health and prevent and manage chronic diseases. These collaborative efforts reduce health disparities and advance health equity in Minnesota, and we can broadly reach communities.”

Sarah BloniganSarah Blonigan is the Juniper Network Director and works with a team of people who create and support Juniper’s community providers: “We now have a statewide network of health promotion and chronic disease management providers, and a state epidemiologist to track the impact of our programs. Without MDH, we wouldn’t be where we are today.” Teresa is clear that neither organization could do it alone. “We have to do it together, and when we do, people thrive, our community-based organizations thrive, and our communities thrive.”

Collaboration Continues

Juniper and MDH are currently collaborating on the following evidence-based programs that help manage chronic diseases and support the health and well-being of Minnesotans:

  • An arthritis program that encourages physical activity and helps participants manage pain.
  • Programs that are designed to help older Minnesotans prevent falls.
  • Juniper’s popular Walk with Ease program is also evidence-based and supported by MDH. This program encourages physical activity while teaching participants about the benefits of light exercise and managing chronic diseases like arthritis.

They are also working on expanding access to Juniper programs. “I love advocating on behalf of this network, meeting people and hearing about their health journey,” Sarah says. “It’s care that promotes good health, rather than responding when people get sick. And we’re becoming a hybrid service, combining clinical and social care.” 

 How can you benefit from the Juniper/MDH Partnership?

Participate in the Diabetes Prevention Program and learn how lifestyle changes can cut your risk of type 2 diabetesIf you have prediabetes, you can enroll in a program that is the first of its kind in the nation and is nationally recognized by the CDC because of the positive impact it can have on people at risk for type 2 diabetes. Other states are now working to implement similar models.

  1. You can participate in the Diabetes Prevention Program in person at a church, community center, YMCA, or other organization within your community.
  2. You can participate in classes virtually, in the privacy of your own home.
  3. You will be connected with peers with similar goals. You will support one another as you learn and make changes in your daily routine.

If you have prediabetes and would like to learn about lifestyle changes that can cut your risk of type 2 diabetes in half, enroll in Juniper’s National Diabetes Prevention Program. You’ll be surrounded and supported by other members of your community.


Visit the Minnesota Department of Health website for more information on the National Diabetes Prevention Program, and visit the Juniper website for an overview of the Diabetes Prevention Program and to join our classes.

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