SIKESTON - A new program offered by the Delta Diabetes Center at Missouri Delta Medical Center uses a fresh approach for presenting diabetes management information.
The Center's diabetes support group has had educational speakers discuss control methods at its regularly scheduled meetings, but the presenters have been physicians or health care providers.
The A1C Champions Program is different. "It's a patient-led diabetes education program," said Nan Thornton, certified diabetes educator. "It's for people who have struggled with or faced the fear of diabetes. I wanted them to have the opportunity to meet a person that has overcome those struggles and can motivate them to make those positive changes in their life."
Thornton explained, "An A1C Champion is a person who has diabetes who has been trained and evaluated to share diabetes self-management and lifestyle strategies based on extensive training and their personal experience."
The program's primary role is to conduct empowering presentations for others with diabetes and their family and friends.
During one-hour patient-to-patient presentations, the A1C Champion talks about his or her experiences with diabetes - physical, emotional and psychological. The sharing of personal insights and ways of dealing with the disease is geared toward empowering others to make the right choices in taking care of their diabetes.
Topics typically include things like how to achieve good glucose control, effective self-management, developing a balanced, healthy lifestyle, planning and prioritizing diabetes management, overcoming fears surrounding the disease and finding resources for diabetes support.
Those who listen to the programs increase their knowledge while speakers get a sense of fulfillment from helping others, officials said.
Kicking off the program at the Delta Diabetes Center will be a presentation by A1C Champion Norman Hente of Granite City, Ill., scheduled for 6:30-8 p.m. Monday at the lower-level classroom at MDMC. The topic will be "Diabetes and the Pursuit of Good Control."
Hente was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 1989 after he began to have vision problems.
"I'm excited about this program because a lot of people, when it comes to their diabetes management, have not had the success they've wanted to have," Thornton said. "That success is achievable and typically comes when the person with diabetes becomes a partner with their health care provider, striving together for good control."
The program's name comes from the hemoglobin A1C laboratory test that measures a person's average blood glucose value for the last two to three months. "It's the marker of control," Thornton said.
Diabetes patients are encouraged to strive for a A1C value of 7.0 or lower. "New guidelines define excellent control as 6.5 or lower," Thornton noted.
The test should be taken every three months. By keeping the number low, a patient can prevent or delay complications.
"The number one complication of poor control is heart attacks and strokes," Thornton said. "Examples of other complications of poor control are eye damage including blindness, loss of kidney function requiring dialysis and amputations."
There is no charge to attend and reservations are not required. Those with questions can call the Delta Diabetes Center at 472-7326.