Linda Smith, UD Employee Wellness program coordinator, participates in a diabetes wellness expo at the Luther Towers in Wilmington.

Mobile wellness

UD a partner in community diabetes screening program

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11:02 a.m., Nov. 25, 2013--With diabetes affecting 25 million people nationwide, including an estimated 66,000 Delawareans over age 18, Delaware’s Mobile Diabetes and Hypertension Wellness Initiative plays a key role in dealing with the disease in the First State.

Sponsored by the Delaware Division of Public Health Diabetes Prevention and Control Program, the mobile initiative targets underserved adults who live in rent-assisted communities, providing testing and referral counseling in their communities or at their places of employment. 

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Recently, students and staff from the University of Delaware College of Heath Sciences participated in a diabetes wellness expo held on Wednesday, Nov. 13, at the Luther Towers in Wilmington. 

Health care and wellness professionals attending the community-based event included a registered dietician, foot doctor, eye doctor and representatives from Quality Insights of Delaware and YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program. 

Participants received a finger-stick blood test and had the opportunity to consult with onsite wellness representatives.  Depending on individual screening results, participants received referrals to the appropriate medical service professionals and community-based treatment programs.

Kathy Corbitt, director of UD’s Employee Wellness Program, said this marks the fifth year that UD has partnered with Quality Insights of Delaware in the grant project focusing on patients that have been diagnosed with diabetes but may not be consistently managing their disease for a variety of reasons. 

The grassroots approach involves UD students and staff who provide health screenings and assist in providing information on physical activity and nutrition and conduct follow-up phone calls. 

“There are a lot of caring partners who can identify a patient’s diabetes and help deal with transportation and follow-up care issues,” Corbitt said. “We want to identify these individuals and get them into the health care system.”

The grant also has expanded to include shift workers in manufacturing and production settings, said Linda Smith, program coordinator in the UD Employee Wellness Center.

“The University is contracted to provide 12 diabetes health expos each year. We go into senior centers and to employers who may not have a robust health care plan,” Smith said. “We’re coming to residents so that they do not have to come to the hospital. We bring a number of allied health professions to help with the patient’s health management.”

Kathy Stroh of the Delaware Health and Social Services Division of Public Health’s Diabetes and Heart Disease Prevention and Control Program said that one of the program’s goals is to identify individuals at the prediabetes level, if possible, before they are diagnosed with Type II diabetes. 

“These community screenings are invaluable,” Stroh said. “We try to convince individuals to seek testing and treatment. What we do here is strictly educational — we do not give medical advice.” 

Helping patients with prediabetes to follow up diagnosis with key lifestyle changes is the mission of the Delaware YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program.

The YMCA program is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-led National Diabetes Prevention Program and is nationally supported by the Diabetes Prevention and Control Alliance. 

“The Delaware YMCA program is for individuals at risk for Type II diabetes,” said Leann Marcinek, assistant director of healthy living with the YMCA of Delaware. “Our participants come to us through referral by a physician or on their own as the result of a health fair screening.” 

Led by a trained lifestyle coach, participants in the program work together in small groups over a 12-month period, beginning with 16 weekly sessions followed by monthly maintenance sessions.

Goals include reducing body weight by 7 percent and increasing physical activity to 150 minutes per week.

“It can be a very emotional experience, with people asking what they need to do now that they have been diagnosed with prediabetes,” Marcinek said. “Group members and their coaches have one commonality -- they have all been diagnosed with prediabetes.” 

Dr. Gina M. Freeman of Foot Health Care of Delaware said that diabetes patients need to see a foot care provider because of the nature of diabetes in affecting other organs, including the eyes and feet. 

“Education is the key. We live in an information society where people get their information from many sources,” Freeman said. “People need specific information, and we want them to know how important it is to find a foot doctor and develop a good relationship and plan of treatment.” 

For more information on the Delaware Diabetes and Heart Disease Prevention and Control Program, visit this website.

Article by Jerry Rhodes

Photos by Evan Krape

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