In an effort to improve diabetes care among Latinos, endocrinologists at the Emory University School of Medicine at Grady Memorial Hospital, in partnership with the American Diabetes Association and Hispano Latino Diabetes, have received a two-year, $150,000 grant from the Healthcare Georgia Foundation to create a culturally sensitive, community-based diabetes education program targeting Latinos in metro Atlanta and throughout the state of Georgia.
The Georgia Latino Diabetes Education Program officially began in March, and is aimed at helping control Type 2 diabetes in Latinos by educating individuals about the importance of diet and exercise, insulin, monitoring blood glucose and medication. The program, which is provided at a minimal or no cost, focuses on patient education, healthcare professional education, and research. Weekly education sessions in Spanish are held 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 Saint Joseph's Mercy Care and the Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville. There are future plans to add more classes at Grady's North Fulton clinic, as well as others in south Fulton and a local Latino mall.
Thus far, 30 patients have participated in the program, and 140 healthcare providers including doctors, nurses, physician assistants, diabetes educators, dietitians, and office administrators have been trained to use bilingual flip charts, blood sugar charts, medication lists and other materials to educate Latino patients.
Diabetes mellitus is a chronic disease involving abnormalities in the body's ability to use sugar. It is often recognized in patients by excessive thirst, weight loss, and/or lack of energy. Left untreated, diabetes can damage the eyes, kidneys and large blood vessels, such as the heart.
According to the non-profit organization Hispano Latino Diabetes, Latinos are the fastest growing minority group in the United States, with estimates of 40.5 million living in the United States, and more than 500,000 in Georgia, which has the third-fastest growing Latino population in the U.S. Of the adult Latinos living in the United States, 25 percent of males and females between the ages of 45 and 74 years old have diabetes--nearly two-and-a-half times the rate of diabetes for whites.
Dietary changes, obesity, physical inactivity, and insulin resistance are some of the factors contributing to the high prevalence of diabetes in Latinos.
Amparo Gonzalez, RN, BSN, CDE, senior research coordinator with the Division of Endocrinology at the Emory University School of Medicine, is director of the Georgia Latino Diabetes Education Program. Gonzalez attributes the lack of follow-up healthcare visits as a major obstacle in providing care to the Latino community. Many new patients at the Grady Diabetes Clinic, for example, do not come back for a second appointment, and less than 25 percent have a follow-up clinic visit after one year.
"This program is all related to improving the care of the Latino with diabetes," Gonzalez says. "My goal is for there to be more programs to serve Latinos in their communities that are easily accessible for individuals to receive diabetes education," Gonzalez says. "We are especially striving to create a culturally sensitive program that ensures healthcare providers who care for Latino patients understand the Latino culture and the important role that diet and exercise and other factors play in diabetes control."
The program hopes to reach 400 patients each year.
For information about the Georgia Latino Diabetes Education Program, please call (404) 778-1697. # # #