03/18/05 — Diabetes a growing problem in Wayne

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Diabetes a growing problem in Wayne

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on March 18, 2005 1:54 PM

The number of diabetes cases reported in Wayne County has increased over the last decade, say health officials, prompting the need to look at new ways to provide education and intervention services.

County Health Director James Roosen said that lifestyle choices are a major contributor to the problem and that people should be encouraged to seek nutritional advice to help avoid the disease.

"When we did our community assessment, it became obvious that diabetes has a huge affect on Wayne County," Roosen said. "Statewide, it's on a downward trend and yet in Wayne County it is not. That got us into investigating why."

Nan Sentz-Foy, the manager of the department's Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Program, also leads the Wise Woman program. She shared a report on the impact of diabetes in Wayne County with the Board of Health this week.

The report, compiled last year by the state Diabetes Prevention and Control Program, said that from 1995 to 2003 the number of diagnosed diabetes cases in the state increased 76 percent, while it increased 102 percent in Wayne County.

"Wayne County is in the upper 51 percent of increased hospitalization for diabetes," Ms. Sentz-Foy said. There was also a marked increase in number of cases of kidney dialysis and lower extremity amputation, she said.

While diagnosed cases have been on the rise, many cases of diabetes are likely still going undiagnosed, Ms. Sentz-Foy said. The Health Department has made efforts to incorporate screenings into more of its health programs.

"We have walk-in clinics on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month from 8 until 11 a.m. and then starting again at 1 p.m.," she said. Total cholesterol tests are also available during those times, she said.

If health warranted, she said, patients are then referred to the Wayne Action Teams for Community Health (WATCH) or to their doctors for further treatment.

Other recommendations are for patients to have yearly eye and foot exams, blood tests, and pneumonia and flu vaccines.

Roosen said that the Health Department has health educators working with school children on the importance of proper nutrition. One outcome has been eliminating whole milk in the school system, he said. Registered dietitians also work with the YMCA.

"We realize that diabetes has been a problem and not only does it affect blood sugar but many different systems," he said, noting its contribution to heart disease.

"I think one of the main things we can do is to focus on lifestyle, get people to eat right, exercise, and quit smoking," he said.

He said that while medical costs are a concern for many, it is important to get the right information.

"We want more people to come into the Health Department to get nutritional advice," he said. "We also want doctors to refer them here to get nutritional counseling."