PMH battling diabetes epidemic with variety of programs

Buckeye, W.Va. – The Centers For Disease Control estimates at least 174,000 West Virginians have Type 2 diabetes and 466,000 West Virginians have pre-diabetes, which can develop into Type 2 diabetes.

Pocahontas Memorial Hospital public affairs officer Susan Wilkins describes the impact of the disease.

“Diabetes is very dangerous and it is a life-changing disease,” she said. Diabetes can raise your risk for heart disease and stroke. It causes more deaths in a single year than breast cancer and AIDS combined.”

PMH nurse and operations officer Terry Wagner says lifestyle changes over several decades are largely to blame for the epidemic.

“We are more sedentary than we were years ago, which is increasing the problem,” she said. “Years ago, our families worked very hard in the land, you know, for their living, for their food, for the different things. We are pretty sedentary these days. We not only have sedentary jobs, but then we don’t move as much when we get home and those types of things. And also, we don’t prepare a lot of our own foods. We use a lot of processed foods. We eat out a lot. We have a lot of high fat, high carbohydrate – those types of things. And those are not as healthy for us.”

Wagner reports some good news about diabetes treatment.

“There is not a cure for diabetes, but it can be managed,” she said. “And that is the good news. years ago, when people found out they had diabetes, they immediately thought it meant they had to lose limbs and lose eyesight and lose kidney function and all those horror stories they had heard so much about. What we know today, from studies that have been done, is that those things do not have to occur. If it is managed well, a person can be healthier than they’ve been at any other point in their life.”

Diabetes management is more difficult than taking a pill or getting a shot.
“Lifestyle changes are always the hardest changes to make,” Wagner said. “And the best way that we can do that is we have to educate people. We cannot change things; we cannot control things that we do not know that much about. So, it’s important that we educate our communities, educate our families, those around us, in ways to make healthier choices and ways we can combat this dreaded disease.”
Wagner offers a program, in which diabetes patients help each other.

“We have a local diabetes support group, that meets every month, here at the hospital,” she said. “We have an educational session with that. And then, just a time for sharing for folks – that they can talk about problems they’re having and find out that they’re not alone in their disease – that there are other people that have some of the same problems they have.

“We also have an American Diabetes Association recognized program, here at the hospital, to teach people how to manage their diabetes. That is done by referral with your physician, your provider, and insurance companies pay for that. It is taught by a nurse and a dietician, that are certified diabetes educators. And they work together with your provider to help manage your diabetes and help you learn better ways to do that.”

Those without insurance can get help.

“We do have a program, here at the hospital, for any services provided at the hospital, that a person can apply, if they have no insurance or they do not have adequate insurance,” Wagner said. “They can apply for our discount program, here at the hospital, and either receive a discount or full exoneration on that account. And so, the diabetes classes, the services that we offer for diabetes, apply to that just as well as any other service here at the hospital.”

For more information call Pocahontas Memorial Hospital at 304-799-7400.

Story By

Heather Niday

Heather is our Program Director and Traffic Manager. She started with Allegheny Mountain Radio as a volunteer deejay. She then joined the AMR staff in February of 2007. Heather grew up in the Richmond, Virginia, area and now lives in Arbovale, West Virginia with her husband Chuck. Heather is a wonderful flute player, and choir director for Arbovale UMC. You can hear Heather along with Chuck on Tuesday nights from 6 to 8pm as they host two hours of jazz on Something Different.

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