Mississippians with Diabetes Are Learning to Make the Right Choices
Details, statistics, testimonials and a dramatic skit highlighted presentations at the Mississippi Health First partners meeting hosted by Information & Quality Healthcare in late February. A variety of organizations from throughout the state attended the event in Jackson, with some 27 agencies represented.
Mississippi Health First is a collaborative effort to improve the health of Mississippians with diabetes. Diabetes self-management education and community involvement are two of the program’s hallmarks. Partners focus on removing the barriers of finance, education, transportation, culture and dietary habits.
A summary of demographic data and survey responses from the 851 people to date who have completed the training were cause for celebration. Survey results show that 81% had not received any prior diabetes self-management education. The survey also found that participants have learned enough about diabetes to make the right choices; they know the signs and warnings signaling the need for medical help and are motivated to do what is necessary to take care of their disease.
The meeting agenda also included a review of the status of collaborative efforts and contributions by partners, including training that was conducted at more than 25 Housing and Urban Development communities and 14 Area Agency on Aging sites.
State Health Officer Dr. Mary Currier described the state as the ‘fried food belt,’ pointing out that 35 percent of the population is obese. Mississippi ranks first in the nation in obesity and third in diabetes rates. A decrease in income results in an increase in obesity, and an increase in income results in less obesity, she observed.
Dr. Arvis Hawkins of the Greenville Primary Care Clinic in the Mississippi Delta, who has practiced medicine for more than 30 years, praised the self-management education classes that have positively affected her patients who have difficulty making a direct association between their actions and the consequences of diabetes. She said that doctors face barriers in providing education, often resorting to printed materials that are not useful in dealing with the complex disease that calls for modifying almost all aspects of patients’ lives.
Darlene Willis, diabetes prevention coordinator with the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, shared the story of a patient who had not been compliant with her medications prior to the classes, but had learned the importance of taking her medications and controlling her blood sugars, reducing her hemoglobin A1c from 13.8 to 7.6.
The MADDRAMA Performance Troupe of Jackson State University, a historically black college and university (HBCU), presented “Diabesity.” The skit, which incorporated statistics and risk factors, put the spotlight on culturally influenced cooking styles and traditional foods associated with unhealthy eating that can lead to obesity and diabetes. Completing the event, Dr. Allen Herman of Health Management Solutions, LLC, and Jan Kelley of the Health Disparities Quality Improvement Organization Support Contractor, HCD International, addressed program sustainability.
More information about Mississippi Health First is available by contacting Lisa Camel, R.N., BSN, project manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 1-866-505-2383.