The American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) recently accredited the Emory Latino Diabetes Education Program (ELDEP) -- the first nationally accredited all-Spanish diabetes education program.
"For African Americans, Latinos, Asians and Native Americans - one of the causes of diabetes is genetic, but there is a big part that's environmental," says Amparo Gonzalez, RN, BSN, CDE, senior research coordinator, Division of Endocrinology, Emory University School of Medicine, director of the Emory Latino Diabetes Education Program and current president of American Association of Diabetes Educators. "The rate of diabetes is high in all minority populations."
The program holds weekly education sessions entirely in Spanish at the Grady Diabetes Clinic, Grady's International Medical Clinic and at the North DeKalb satellite neighborhood clinics of the Grady Health System. Other classes are held at the Northwest Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville. Plans are currently underway to add classes at North Fulton Regional Hospital.
Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects the body's ability to use blood sugar for energy. The main types include type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes. Symptoms may include increased thirst and urination, blurred vision and fatigue. Left untreated, diabetes can lead to serious complications, such as blindness, kidney damage, cardiovascular disease and lower-limb amputations.
Diabetes affects nearly 24 million people in the United States, according to the American Diabetes Association. Each year about 1.3 million people ages 20 or older are diagnosed with diabetes and that number is on the rise especially for minorities.
In the United States alone, more than six million people are unaware that they have diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. Experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expect diabetes to affect more than 48 million people nationally by 2050.
With such dismal statistics, the Emory Latino Diabetes Education Program is hoping to reverse the trend in one of the fastest growing and affected populations.
In March 2006, with the help of a two-year, $150,000 grant from the Healthcare Georgia Foundation, Emory's Latino Diabetes Education program began developing a culturally sensitive, community-based diabetes education program targeting Latinos in metro Atlanta and throughout the state of Georgia.
"Culture is what you've learned, it's who you are," notes Gonzalez. "If you have to deal with a chronic illness and then you have to change the way you've learned to do things, but still work in the context of who you are, it can be challenging.
"We have accredited five of our sites and we will be expanding our program," says Gonzalez. "Our classes were developed in Spanish and are taught in Spanish by Latina healthcare professionals. That's where the success of our program comes from."
Driven by research, healthcare education and patient health empowerment ELDEP is targeted to help control Type 2 diabetes in Latinos - the most common form of the disease by educating patients about the importance of a balanced diet, exercise, insulin, monitoring blood glucose and medication. About 90 percent to 95 percent of people with diabetes have type 2 -- the type that is associated with older age, obesity, family history of diabetes, previous history of gestational diabetes, physical inactivity and ethnicity.
Patient progress is monitored with follow-up classes called Clubes de Diabetes -diabetes club meetings. Gonzalez describes them as very social in nature and include short information lectures and an opportunity for group interaction.
ELDEP also offers a CME/CEU program for health professionals "This program is good for healthcare professionals, for physicians, nurses and anyone who works in the diabetes team that is seeing Spanish speaking patients with diabetes to know that our program exists and that they can send their patients here," says Gonzalez. "We're seeing really great results and we're really making a difference in patient's lives. We're helping people find physicians. They come to us and they haven't seen a doctor forever. Some are still getting their medications from Mexico. We're able help connect them with different resources within the community -- and then they can start being able to take care of their diabetes."
Thus far the Emory Latino Diabetes Education Program has been administered to almost 600 Latino patients in Georgia. Gonzalez and her team hope that's just the beginning. "There's a lot of work to be done, we're doing it, and we're getting there," she emphasizes.
For more information about the Emory Latino Diabetes Education Program, please call (404) 778-1697
About American Association of Diabetes Educators AADE
Founded in 1973, AADE was created by and for diabetes educators. As a multidisciplinary professional association, AADE represents and supports the diabetes educator by providing members the resources to stay abreast of the current research, methods and trends in the field and by offering opportunities to network and collaborate with other healthcare professionals.