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Upcoming ‘Diabetes Matters’ Lecture Focuses on How to Use the Library

August 24, 2010

Did you know that an estimated 100,000 people in Alameda County have diabetes? And that, in the U.S., diabetes has now surpassed asthma as the most common chronic disease among children?

With Type 2 diabetes, the body doesn’t produce enough insulin or recognize insulin. We need this important hormone to be able to break down the starches and sugars in the food we eat so our body can use the resulting glucose to create energy. Today, Type 2 diabetes has reached epidemic proportions in our country and is threatening more adults and children at a younger age.

Experts say learning about diabetes can teach you how to prevent or delay the disease and avoid complications. Diabetes education can also help family members and caregivers know how to assist and support people living with the disease.

"When people understand the importance of living a healthy lifestyle, including a nutritious diet, exercise and weight control, those with diabetes can manage their disease and help prevent complications," explains Sandy Mertesdorf, R.N., a certified diabetes educator with the Washington Outpatient Diabetes Center. "For everyone, it is important to know your risk for diabetes. If you are at high risk, you can take steps to prevent or delay the disease."

To fulfill the critical need for current and reliable information about diabetes, the Center sponsors a series of free education classes for the public featuring expert speakers followed by a group discussion. Called Diabetes Matters, the classes are held in the Conrad E. Anderson, M.D. Auditorium next to Washington Hospital. Sessions are from 7 to 8 p.m. on the first Thursday of the month (except July). People with diabetes, family members, caregivers and the general public are welcome, and no registration is required. For more information, call (510) 745-6556 or visit www.whhs.com/diabetes.

The next Diabetes Matters class on Thursday, September 2 is called "How to Use the Library to Find Free Diabetes Resources." Participants will gather first for an hour-long session in Washington Hospital’s Community Health Resource Library on the first floor in the Washington West (2500 Mowry) building. The second hour of the class will follow the usual monthly format in the Auditorium, with a diabetes support group discussion moderated by Mertesdorf, who coordinates the Diabetes Matters series.

"Following a healthy lifestyle that helps to manage and prevent diabetes can be challenging," says Lucy Castillo, the Library’s operations coordinator.

During the class, Castillo will explain how to use the Library’s wide range of resources available at no charge to the public. "We have more than 200 items related to diabetes in our collection, including helpful information for children and families," she adds.

The Library is dedicated to providing medical information to help people make informed decisions about their health and health care. Besides books, journals and videos, it offers free access to the internet for health-related research. Trained volunteers are available to assist library patrons in finding appropriate resources and with internet searches.

"Like all services at Washington Hospital, we are guided by the Patient First Ethic," states Castillo. "In the Library, this means we focus on what is best for our patrons. Our volunteers really enjoy helping people find the information they need. With internet searches, the volunteers can assist even those who are not computer literate."

Both Mertesdorf and Castillo emphasize that one of the goals of the Diabetes Matters classes and the Community Health Library is to empower people to take responsibility for and participate in the management of their own health. This is especially important for people with diabetes.

"As with many other health-related issues, people should work closely with their physician to manage their diabetes," recommends Mertesdorf. "When they have a better understanding about diabetes self-management, individuals can help improve the quality and outcome of their care. They can keep up to date on their personal testing and monitoring needs, as well as understand the meaning of test results and how to control their blood sugar."

The Outpatient Diabetes Program at Washington Hospital has a dedicated team of certified diabetes educators who teach people to control diabetes for a lifetime. Through its BASICS program and other services, the staff provides information and teaches skills to guide individuals in achieving successful diabetes self-management. Ninety percent of participants who complete the program have measurably improved their blood glucose levels. The Hospital’s Diabetes Education Program has been recognized by the American Diabetes Association for Quality Self-Management Education.

Diabetes Education
For more information about the Washington Outpatient Diabetes Center and the Diabetes Matters series, visit www.whhs.com/diabetes. For more information on the Washington Community Health Resource Library, visit www.healthlibrary.org.