They were looking for a new twist for a traditional event so the local branch of the Canadian Diabetes Association (CDA) called on their headquarters and partners and together they set up a fully staffed diabetes awareness site in the foyer of Spectra Place last Wednesday.
“Increasing awareness of diabetes, risk assessments, education, that's what this is about,” said Regina- based Leah Domoney, public programs and services co-ordinator for the CDA, who helped set up the displays, information stations and educational literature.
“We're doing more of these higher profile visits,” she said.
Shelley Boardman, a registered nurse who works from St. Joesph's Hospital in Estevan as a diabetes educator, and Maeribeth Sullivan, a dietition at the hospital, said that as more people become familiar with the risk factors and warning signs, their jobs get more varied. They joined Domoney in her statement that earlier detection of the risk factors reduces costs and anxiety for everyone concerned, especially the potential diabetic and the caregivers.
“Earlier detection means we can help them prevent the onset of diabetes,” said Boardman.
Domoney said CDA's partners in the one-day event included the City of Estevan, Sun Country Health Region and a local pharmacy, Pharmasave, which also had personnel on site to assist those who wished to gain further instant information.
The awareness clinic conducted between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. wasn't established to provide anything like a diagnosis, but rather to make the general public more aware of diabetes, how the risk assessment is carried out, how the screening is done and how people can self-identify certain things that might indicate a risk of the disease.
“That can lead to a discussion with a diabetes educator, like Shelley,” said Domoney.
A number of early morning walkers and joggers who were leaving the Spectra Place indoor track that morning stopped to visit with the professionals including Kay Steele, a registered nurse from Carlyle, who was instrumental in Sun Country Health Region's efforts in establishing a diabetic and chronic disease clinical leadership group. This has led to a group of nurses who have special interest in diabetes being available to the public in Estevan, Weyburn and Carlyle.
“They provide medical information as well as further education about diabetes and program development,” said Steele, who was in on the ground floor with this primary health initiative dealing with diabetes.
“The focus on this day will be information on screening and prevention and how you can reduce the risk of getting diabetes ... getting at it before complications set in. It's all based on national guidelines,” said Steele.
Domoney said she was impressed with the reaction from St. Joe's and the health region regarding volunteers for the event and said the City of Estevan was most helpful by supplying personnel who assisted in the set-up and take down.
Boardman said raising awareness of diabetes is not just a public-focus event since physicians and nurses and other caregivers such as Sullivan have to keep updated and vigilant in an effort to nip the disease in the bud.
“Referrals are made after a diagnosis is made and people can self-refer or it is done through a physician or other health professional,” said Boardman.
“When the referral is made, you simply phone St. Joseph's, ask to talk with a member of the diabetes team, which could be a nurse, dietitian or any other team member, and it goes from there. We see people who are pre-diabetes or already have it and we see it at all ages, from pediatric to Type 1 diabetic adults,” Boardman said.
Sullivan said there is a weekly clinic held at St. Joe's and she noted how treatments and daily check-offs and testing have become so much easier over the years as gains are made in the development of insulin pens and spot checks for blood sugar.