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Living with Diabetes: Free Diabetes Education and Support Group

Diabetes is a serious illness that affects more than 20 million individuals in the United States and an estimated 82,000 Alameda County residents. Furthermore, physicians at Washington Hospital’s Diabetes Center warn that many more individuals in Alameda County — perhaps as many as 30,000 — may be unaware they have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes.

Uncontrolled, diabetes can lead to kidney failure, vision problems, heart and circulatory issues and complications that may exacerbate other health problems, according to Dr. Prasad V. Katta, an endocrinologist and Medical Co-Director of the Diabetes Center.

To educate the public and to provide important information to those with diabetes as well as friends and family members, the Washington Hospital Diabetes Center sponsors the Diabetes Matters program, a series of free monthly public seminars held on the first Thursday of each month from 7 to 8 p.m., except July. The public is encouraged to attend any or all of the seminars.

On Thursday, January 7, from 7 to 8 p.m., Yvonne Dobbenga-Rhodes, RN, will discuss “Goal Setting for Diabetes Success.” Her talk will be followed by a Diabetes Support Group meeting from 8 to 9 p.m. The public is encouraged to attend the seminar program and/or the support group meeting.

The Diabetes Support Group program is ongoing and open to all individuals living with diabetes, including family members and friends of diabetes patients. The support group allows individuals to have in-depth conversations about what’s happening in their lives and to share information about dealing with diabetes. The support group meets in the hour following the monthly seminar programs (8 to 9 p.m.) in the same space.

“Active management of diabetes is critical to prevent dangerous complications common to uncontrolled diabetes,” Dr. Katta explained. “Diet, exercise and managing blood sugar levels are essential to prevent circulatory problems in the eyes and extremities.”

Diabetes cannot be “cured” once someone has developed the disease, it can be treated and managed by the patient and his/her physician. “The key is knowledge and then steady attention to managing the disease,” Dr. Katta said.

Dr. Katta explained that for those individuals with diabetes, the body cannot properly convert sugar in food into energy, causing sugar levels in the blood and urine to rise. The complications of uncontrolled diabetes can be very serious and can begin very early in the disease’s progress. Most complications stem from changes in blood vessels and nerves that affect various parts of the body, including the eyes, kidneys, heart and limbs.

Type 1 diabetes usually develops early in life, in infancy through adolescence. Type 2 usually develops in older adults. Family history can have a strong influence on whether a person will develop Type 2. The lifetime risk of diabetes can be as high as 60 percent when both parents have had diabetes, and 25 to 30 percent when one parent has had the disease.

Upcoming programs are:

  • February 4: Insulin Delivery: “To Pump or Not to Pump” by Dr. Archana Bindra, an endocrinologist and Medical Co-Director of the Diabetes Center.
  • March 3: A field trip: Grocery Shopping with “Diabet-EZ” with Anna Mazzei, Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator (this program is limited to 20 participants and registration is required; call 1-800-963-7070 or register at
  • April 7: Brown Bag Medication Review with Minh-Thu Dennen, PharmD Director of Pharmacy Washington Hospital.
  • May 5: The History of Diabetes with Vida Reed, RN, Certified Diabetes Educator.
  • June 2: Diabetes Roundtable Panel Discussion with Experts in the field of diabetes, cardiology and nutrition.

For those unable to attend the monthly program, the seminars also are televised on InHealth, a Washington Hospital Channel (Comcast Channel 78) and online at