“We really wanted to make it easier for people who work during the day to take part in these really fun and informative classes,” said Heather Perry, BCMC’s Social Services Director and Diabetes Education Coordinator for the Greater Delta Alliance for Health (GDAH). “We hope that by offering an evening class, more folks will be able to participate.”
Sponsored by the GDAH, the Diabetes Empowerment Education Program (DEEP) teaches participants how to change their lives by learning how to control their diabetes. The free classes will cover topics from how diabetes affects the body and making sense of blood sugar numbers, to coping with the disease and how diet and exercise are crucial to making diabetes more manageable.
“We’ve had so many amazing success stories as a result of these classes,” Perry stated. “One woman shared that six months after completing the course, her A1c test [that reflects average blood sugar level over a two- to three-month period] had dropped from 13.7 to 5.3 and she had lost 54 pounds! Her doctor told her she could stop her oral diabetes medication and continue with her new lifestyle of diet and exercise. She was so excited! And so were we, because that’s what we want our classes to do; empower and educate.”
While diabetes is a very serious health issue, Perry said that doesn't mean someone can’t learn how to live with the disease while also having fun, which the classes provide through games and other hands-on activities. She added it was also a great opportunity to meet people and acquire a really important support network.
“Dealing with diabetes is not easy. It’s a daily battle. Will you or the disease win? We have found that having someone who understands and shares that struggle can make all the difference,” she said.
DEEP reached over 185 people in 2016. The GDAH hopes to increase that number in 2017 by offering free peer education diabetes training for any employee in the GDAH hospital network, thereby expanding the availability of classes throughout its nineteen-county service area. To sign up for the BCMC classes (required), or for more information on training, please call Heather Perry at (870) 226-4339.
The GDAH hospital network includes Ashley County Medical Center, Baptist Health—Stuttgart, Bradley County Medical Center, Chicot Memorial Medical Center, Dallas County Medical Center, Delta Memorial Hospital, DeWitt Hospital & Nursing Home, Drew Memorial Hospital, Jefferson Regional Medical Center, and McGhee Hospital. For more information on the GDAH and its free programs, call (855) 390-9195 or visit www.gdaharkansas.com.