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HomeNewsLocal newsClinic Challenge Teaches Participants How to Live with Diabetes

Clinic Challenge Teaches Participants How to Live with Diabetes

Surrounded by the winning Red team, Dr. Barbara Douglas holds trophy for the East End Medical Center's Diabetes Challenge.A small room at the East End Medical Center was bursting with joy Saturday morning as a groundbreaking ceremony honored the first 16 winners of the Center’s Diabetic Challenge.

It was a special moment, marking the completion of the island’s first diabetic initiative.

The room could hardly contain the joie de vivre expressed by the volunteer patients and their friends and family at their success. It marked the end of a three-month journey to radically improve their health, a program in which they acquired healthy living habits which will influence their lives from now on.

The atmosphere was like a school class celebrating its first win. The energy was contagious.

The idea of holding a contest was a winner. It was modeled after the government’s popular "Biggest Loser” competition. Three teams competed, led by Drs. Debra Wright-Francis, Madel Villegas and Barbara Douglas.

The contestants were patients who have struggled to maintain healthy glucose levels. They volunteered to participate in the competition created by Douglas, physician of internal medicine at the clinic.

Patients whose A1c levels (a common blood test used to manage diabetes) were higher than 9.0 were challenged to take an aggressive approach to reduce their levels by at least 3 points.

The contest was modeled after the popular weight-loss competition TV show, "The Biggest Loser."

Douglas said the volunteer patients were schooled on nutrition, diet and exercise.

"They took regular group walks and they learned some tai chi movements, which helps in reducing stress,” Douglas said.

Of the 27 who initially registered, 16 were honored Saturday. The group had just two male volunteers – Ira Smith, who lost 5.8 points, winning the count, but who could not attend the Saturday ceremony.

The other male, Clement Charles, was eager to speak of his experience.

"I didn’t know I was diabetic,” he said. "I had been having problems with having to go to the bathroom all the time, so I went to the doctor, and he told me my problem. I love to eat, and I ate all the time. Dr. Douglas told me she didn’t want to see me in pieces, losing an arm or leg. She told me how to change my eating habits, and how to exercise. Now, I can spread the word.”

Mavis Weeks said the program changed her life. "Now, I take my meds when I should and I watch what I eat. With the information I have now, I’ll be able to help others as well. I love this!”

Passing the word is one of the program’s goals.

Douglas had some serious words about the disease.

"It can be genetic, but that is rarely the case," she said. "It is not a death sentence, but it is a serious threat if not treated. It affects the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, nerves and teeth. And it can be controlled. And diabetics can lead healthy lives.”

Winning the $150 purse for lowering his count the most was Ira Smith, who lost 5.8 points. Right behind him was Cecilia Liverpool, with a five-point loss. All the participants left sporting a red, white and blue medal.

The Red Team took team honors with the most cumulative points. They were awarded a huge trophy, which Smith compared to the Stanley Cup.

"Next year’s winners can reclaim this cup!” he said.

The next challenge will be January 2016.

Further information is available by contacting Monifa Stout, East End Clinic public relations director, at 340-775-3700.
 

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