By MAGGIE MENDERSKI
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in every three Americans will develop diabetes in the next 40 years if nothing is done to address its causes.
Blessing Hospital is trying to do just that. More than 45 people took part in Blessing's free blood sugar and diabetes risk screenings Wednesday. Dr. Rachel Yankey will follow up with all patients whose screenings indicated abnormalities. Blessing's staff hopes the screenings will encourage preventive care for diabetes.
"I think prevention is always much easier than treatment," Yankey said.
The hospital offered the service as part of Diabetes Awareness Day, but the screenings were just the beginning of what Blessing President and CEO Maureen Kahn says the hospital is planning to help combat the disease.
After the first of the year, Blessing Hospital will implement a diabetes education center at the Bariatric programs office at 1107 College. The center will provide an array of specialists, dietitians and education outlets to help people with diabetes manage the disease and to establish prevention methods for people at-risk of getting diabetes.
"You're not going to have to find your way through the maze of health care," Kahn said in explaining how the center will make that task easier.
About 800,000 people in Illinois are dealing with diabetes, and it's estimated that 500,000 others unknowingly have it. Diabetes can cause of kidney failure, nontraumatic lower limb amputations and blindness. In Illinois, treatment and care for these diabetes-related conditions cost more than $7 billion a year.
Debra Derhake, a registered nurse and diabetes instructor at Blessing Hospital, speculated that most of the people who participated in the free screenings Wednesday did so out of curiosity.
With diabetes, the body does not use or properly produce insulin. The body needs this hormone to turn sugar, starches and other food into energy that cells can use.
"You just don't feel very good when your blood sugar is high," Derhake said.
She explained that diabetes can be prevented through diet, exercise and stress management. The new education center will address each of these components, among others.