Diabetes education granted a sweet deal

May 15, 2009

by Amy Olita

Human ecology and nursing students will now have more opportunities to gain experience outside class by helping others in the community due to a grant, which was recently awarded to nutrition professor Mary Murimi.

The $375,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration will be used to implement a rural health care services outreach program that will focus on diabetes prevention and education and will also hopefully enhance total community health in Dubach and the surrounding areas.

Murimi said the purpose of her three-year project is to combat diabetes among the African-American population because her studies show African-Americans are more prone to the disease.

“We will work with about 10 African-American churches and identify those with risk factors of diabetes, hold an intervention and teach them ways to reduce their risk through lifestyle changes,” Murimi said. “If we intervene before people get sick and have to go to the hospital, diabetes can be overcome.”

She said Tech students will help administer tests, collect data and teach them the importance of proper diabetes care.

“If people do have diabetes, it is very important to adhere to the medication or their condition could deteriorate and become chronic,” Murimi said.

Lucy Douglas, an assistant professor of nursing and a diabetes educator, said she is really excited to be a part of the project that will begin in September.
“The heart of a nurse is prevention and wellness,” Douglas said.

She said it is important to teach people to be their own health care advocate.

“Especially in a rural setting it is not as common for people to routinely go to the doctor,” Douglas said. “So, we are targeting the at risk population and telling them how to navigate the health care system, why they should take care of themselves and how they should do it.”

She said students will participate in diabetes screenings and educating people on how to prevent diabetes with proper fitness and nutrition.

“It’s exciting to collaborate with another discipline,” Douglas said. “And this is good for nursing students to get experience outside of a hospital and see they don’t practice in a vacuum.”

LaTosha Mollette, a senior nursing major, said she is excited about the opportunity to work with diabetes because of the time spent on the subject in class.

“So many people aren’t mindful of their blood-glucose levels and don’t know they need to monitor it on a regular basis,” Mollette said. “This is a good opportunity not only for the community but for us students who can get involved and teach others what we’ve learned.”