A Battle Against Diabetes: Free Medical Program Opens in Houston's Low-income Neighborhood Acres Homes
By Clarence Walker
Acres Home will get an additional much needed community service for its residents. The City of Houston Health Department will soon open a free diabetes center during the upcoming weeks. Acres Home is an area northwest of Houston where more than 18 percent of adults are living with the disease. The new center will provide free diabetes education, help people diagnosed or at risk of diabetes develop self-management skills, and other services to help reduce and prevent chronic disease. In addition the center will receive support from M.D. Anderson Cancer Center's "Be Well Communities", a program that promotes wellness and cancer prevention to underserved communities in the Houston area. Be Well Acres Homes will serve other functions like educational services to the center. The free center is part of the city's DAWN program(Diabetes Awareness Wellness Program).
"Expanding our services to another multi-service center shows the commitment to communities in need of more healthy living education and chronic illness management support," said Elizabeth Appleton, DAWN's chief nurse. "I know the community will benefit greatly." DAWN also offers services at the Third Ward and Denver Harbor Multi-Service Centers. Classes offered at the centers include nutrition, fitness, prediabetes prevention, and chronic disease self-management. The staff includes nurses, registered dieticians, fitness trainers, certified medical assistants, public health educators, counselors, and certified diabetes educators. "Complete Communities is the signature initiative of my administration that is focused on creating the road map to economic opportunity, deep community investment and improved health across our region," Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said. "The vitality of our city and the health of our community are everyone's responsibilities, especially in neighborhoods where opportunity is not equal," Turner explained.
Having Covid-19 and Diabetics
According to the Houston City Health Department, over half of Houstonians who died of Covid-19 had diabetes. Out of the city's 3, 646 Covid-19 related deaths as of November 2021, 51.9 percent had diabetes and 23 percent were people with underlying health conditions,including obese individuals.
"Data clearly show that people with underlying health conditions, including diabetes, are more vulnerable to severe outcomes if they get Covid-19," said Stephen Williams, Director of the Houston Health Department. "That's why our access and equity response strategy targets vital testing vaccination, and education resources in areas of the city with increased prevalence of underlying health conditions."
Nationwide Numbers: Death From Diabetes
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) indicated that over 37 million people had diabetes between 2019-2020, and that over 8 million adults had diabetes and never knew it. Diabetes disproportionately affects minorities, the elderly, and diagnoses are expected to keep rising as minority populations grow in the country. The worst part about diabetes is that it affects the vital organs in the body and it is a frequent cause of end-stage renal disease, lower-extremity amputation, as well a leading cause of blindness among adults. CDC recommends that people with the chronic disease are encouraged to check blood sugar levels daily, keep blood pressure under control, and know cholesterol ranges.
For a list of diabetes education activities and information on locations, programs, and services, call 832-393-4055 or visit HoustonHealth.org
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