Mendocino Community Health Clinic Offers Free Diabetes Education in English and Spanish
During November, American Diabetes Month, Mendocino Community Health Clinic (MCHC) is helping people with diabetes live a healthy, balanced life by providing free education, including one-on-one counseling and free classes.
Recent research indicates that approximately four thousand Mendocino County residents currently live with diabetes, a condition associated with several risk factors, including obesity and physical inactivity. With more than half of all Mendocino County fifth-graders considered overweight or obese, the prevalence of diabetes is likely to continue to rise. In fact, by 2020, nearly one in ten adult Californians is projected to have diabetes.
So, what is diabetes? There are two main types of diabetes, Type I and Type II. Type II diabetes is the most common, and it usually begins with insulin resistance—a condition in which your body’s cells do utilizing insulin efficiently. Like a key that unlocks the “doors” of the body’s cells, insulin allows cells in your body to use sugar (glucose) from food to produce energy. When glucose can’t get into your body’s cells, glucose starts to build up in the blood. To keep up with the body’s demand for insulin, the pancreas starts making more insulin. Over time, the pancreas loses its ability to produce enough insulin and glucose starts building up in the blood. High blood glucose damages blood vessels, and in the long-run, can contribute to kidney disease, stroke, heart attack, blindness, or nerve damage.
Although diabetes can have serious and debilitating consequences, the good news is that diabetes can be managed successfully. At Hillside Health Center in Ukiah, health providers and support staff provide free, one-on-one diabetic counseling for patients. After patients attend their usual clinic visit with a primary care provider, a Community HealthCorps member meets with the patient to offer health coaching relevant to diabetes self-management. If the patient wants to discuss how to better manage their diabetes, the Community HealthCorps member inquires about daily habits specific to nutrition, exercise, blood sugar checking, and stress management.
During their meeting with the patient, the Community HealthCorps members provide information about the effects and physiology of diabetes, contact information for community resources, exercise options, or even tips on eating healthy food on a budget. They also provide bilingual educational materials sponsored by the American Diabetes Association. At the conclusion of the meeting, each Community HealthCorps member encourages the patient to create a lifestyle-specific goal for a follow-up meeting, if the patient is interested. In this manner, the Community HealthCorps member and patient work together to create long-lasting and positive health changes.
This year, the Community HealthCorps group is composed of three service-members: Simrun Bal, Allison Greene, and Brenda Mbaabu. They work alongside Hillside Health Center’s Diabetes Case Manager, Veronica Clow, R.N. The Diabetes Case Manager provides comprehensive, bilingual diabetes education for patients.
One way Clow and the Community HealthCorps team will help individuals with diabetes prevent or manage complications is to host free classes. Hillside Health Center’s first Diabetes Class will be held in Spanish on Friday, November 14, from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., and in English on Wednesday, November 19, from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Free child-care is available for both events. Hillside patients interested in attending should RSVP by calling (707) 472-4538.
At the Diabetes Class, Clow and the HealthCorps member, as well as Xochilt Martinez, FNP, will provide an overview of diabetes, nutrition, and exercises, and a sampling of healthy foods.
The HealthCorps members are also collaborating with the Ukiah Natural Foods Co-op to encourage diabetic patients to become aware of the resources available at the store for healthy eating. Accompanied by a Community HealthCorps volunteer, patients are encouraged to attend a store tour at the Ukiah Natural Foods Co-op and then discuss any diabetes-specific nutrition questions or ideas about healthy eating with the volunteer.
For those interested in learning more about diabetes, visit the Ukiah Library later this month, where the Community HealthCorps members have teamed up with librarians to create an informative display of books for American Diabetes Month. There is something for anyone interested in learning more about healthy cooking, diabetes management resources, or nutrition.
For more information on diabetes, visit the American Diabetes Association at http://www.diabetes.org or call 1-800-DIABETES. To learn more about diabetes in Mendocino County, visit HealthyMendocino.org.