Samuel Merritt University Provides Free Diabetes Education for Latinos

Appeared in: NEWS-Line

Samuel Merritt University (SMU) and the Davis Street Family Resource Center in San Leandro, recently hosted a free diabetes workshop. The purpose of this diabetes education program was to improve the glycemic control and self-management skills in the Hispanics/Latino community.

Students from the Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) program at Samuel Merritt University guided the discussion on a variety of topics, including how to manage diabetes and plan meals better; facts and myths about diabetes; managing blood sugar, and conditions that affect blood sugar rates. The workshop was conducted both in English and in Spanish.

According to FNP student Suzanne Portnoy, the bi-lingual workshops were created to promote better health through a series of face-to-face sessions for those who suffer from the chronic disease.

"Being told you have diabetes can leave you with a lot of questions," explains Portnoy. "The programs encouraged patients to relate what they learned to their own experiences and make plans to put that learning to work in their everyday lives."

Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetes affect 25.8 million people of all ages and nearly 10 million people are undiagnosed. Diabetes is an urgent health problem in the Latino community. Their rates of diabetes are almost double those of non-Latino whites. Getting information to the community about the seriousness of diabetes, its risk factors and those who may be at risk and ways to help manage the disease is essential.

"Prevention and early diagnosis are keys to longevity," said Michael DeRosa, Chair of the Master of Physician Assistant program at Samuel Merritt University. "Diabetes is a disease which is clearly rooted in lifestyle. Unfortunately those with less access to healthcare are also more likely to have the lifestyle considerations of poor diet and lack of physical activity that lead to the disease. The hope is that providing education about these lifestyle issues in a culturally competent way can reduce long term healthcare costs and improve quality of life."

The educational workshops included exercise and cooking demonstrations sponsored by the Alameda County Food Bank. All participants received a pedometer, an exercise band, and cookbook.

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