POINT PLEASANT — With obesity and type 2 diabetes becoming a constant and growing issue in West Virginia, Pleasant Valley Hospital (PVH) is stepping up to help reverse those increasing numbers.
PVH is partnering with the West Virginia Medical Institute (WVMI), the Medicare Quality Improvement Organization for West Virginia, to offer a program called “Everyone with Diabetes Counts.” Set for 2 p.m. on March 4, 5, and 11, and 2:30 p.m. on March 12, PVH will offer these free classes taught by Natalie Tappe with the WVMI, in the McNeil Conference Room at the hospital.
Through thes classes, attendees will learn several things about diabetes including the risks involved, the role of diet and exercise, the importance of regular doctor exams and annual foot and eye exams, how to resist temptations and to maintain willpower, and how to manage medications. The classes will be taught in different modules, or sections, and each class period will cover two modules, with eight being covered by the end of the four classes. Each class will last about an hour and a half and registration is not required. Tappe also noted the classes will be very interactive and not simply a lecture, and the information will be easy to learn and not complicated.
Tappe said Medicare chose West Virginia for this program due to the increasing number of diabetes patients in local rural areas. According to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, there are 18.2 million people in the United States who have diabetes, 13 million who have been diagnosed and 5.2 million who don’t know they have it and West Virginia ranks highest in the nation by percentage of population with diabetes. According to the WVMI, as many as one in six people in West Virginia are being diagnosed with diabetes and has little to no education about the disease and their condition.
Not only does the WVMI wish to educate people on diabetes, but Tappe said the concept behind the program is to empower people to manage their diabetes with their doctor, encouraging patients to talk to their doctor about everything and saying it’s just as much the patient’s responsibility as it is their doctor’s to be aware their condition.
In addition to these classes, Tappe will also help train local residents such as nurses, pharmacists, and health department employees through the Diabetes Education Empowerment Program (DEEP) and the Training of the Trainers Program. Through this training, these local people will then be able to teach these diabetes classes and help continue the program in the future, which Tappe said is one of the main goals.
“We hope to reach as many people as we possibly can and to keep the program going,” Tappe said.
Tappe also mentioned they have been working with Diana Riddle with the Mason County Health Department who has also recently begun the Mason County Diabetes Wellness Coalition, which is working to increase and promote healthier lifestyles in the local community. The coalition meetings are open to the public and are held at 4 p.m. on the fourth Thursday of every month at the Mason County Courthouse Annex.
In addition to Mason County, hospitals in other rural counties are also offering these classes and are hoping to continue the program, including Jackson, Wayne, Lincoln, Boone, Logan, Wyoming, McDowell, Mercer, Summers, Nicholas, Greenbrier, and Monroe Counties. Concerning the continuation of the program, Tappe said the hope is to train a minimum of 50 people throughout the 13 counties who will be able to continue to teach the classes. Other states participating in the program also include New York and Texas.
The classes will be offered again at PVH on March 21, 22, 25, and 26. For more information, visit www.wvdiabeteseducation.org, or call 855-376-9382.