By Nathan Roden
While we are still learning and understanding COVID-19, we do know that other diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, increase the severity of COVID-19 disease. The interaction between both diseases causes COVID-19 to progress quicker as well as increase the severity of symptoms. Individuals with diabetes have more inflammation within the body, which further increases the inflammatory response from COVID infection. The increased risks of having COVID-19 with those that are diagnosed with diabetes is dangerous to their health and further increases the need for vaccination as well as diabetes prevention services in hard-to-reach areas.
Changing one’s lifestyle is hard, and it’s even harder when you are stuck inside because of a global pandemic. With COVID-19-related illness on the rise, Brookhaven, Mississippi’s health and wellness hub, King’s Daughters Medical Center, noticed that many people slowly stopped showing up to their diabetes prevention program, weight loss support group, diabetes support group, and their smoking cessation program. It was hard to keep people in the classroom when people were worried about getting sick, and it was also hard to get the word out about these helpful programs. With available vaccines and empty seats in her classrooms, Emily Nations and her team found a solution to their problems while helping to fight a global pandemic.
Emily and her team saw an opportunity, to go out with COVID-19 vaccines and screen people for prediabetes
“Teamwork, endurance, and the purpose that drives the most passionate of healthcare workers.” That’s what Emily Nations of Kings Daughter’s Medical Center says allowed her team to use COVID-19 to their advantage. In Mississippi, the #3 state in diabetes prevalence, Emily and her team saw an opportunity, to go out with COVID-19 vaccines and screen people for prediabetes. When she first received COVID-19 vaccines, they set up their mobile vaccination clinics with vaccines, flyers, and glucose and diabetes risk tests to get the word out for the Medical Center’s lifestyle change programs. Emily thought, “if people were willing to get a vaccine, maybe they would be willing to see if they were at risk for other health issues.” Emily and her team leaned on local businesses to see if they could come and vaccinate their employees and hand out informational flyers about their program offerings. Along with the flyer and vaccines, the mobile clinics offered glucose screenings and a sign-up sheet if people were interested in coming. By using these innovative approaches, Emily and her team were able to increase enrollments for their lifestyle change programs. Emily considered this approach to be very successful, specifically in school settings with their local community college and city school districts. A sense of purpose drove Emily and her team to deliver these vaccines. The Brookhaven community has been widely impacted.
To reach people within her community, Emily and her team built a great workflow process:
- Go to a site.
- Vaccinate those who are willing.
- Discuss their programs.
Almost immediately, Emily noticed that this approach to promoting their lifestyle change programs was breaching a barrier to an audience that was not initially receptive. Emily’s experience with outreach was primarily over the phone with minimal direct contact with people. However, when she met with local employees face-to-face, they were receptive to giving their lifestyle change programs a try. The major roadblock to those not wanting to attend were work schedule conflicts.
Emily is combating diabetes and COVID-19-related disparities by locating hard-to-reach populations within her community and meeting with them in-person to offer vaccinations and screening for prediabetes
However, their efforts to promote their programs were not without questions. With the growing worry of infection from going to a hospital, people were worried that they would get sick just trying to get to the programs. King’s Daughters Medical Center focuses on an all-inclusive approach with all of their programs. While the medical center does host their health education programs on-site, they also run them offsite to alleviate these worries.
Emily is combating diabetes and COVID-19-related disparities by locating hard-to-reach populations within her community and meeting with them in-person to offer vaccinations and screening for prediabetes. This is critical for reducing the severity of COVID-19 infection in those who are at higher risk, by helping them prevent diabetes and by preventing the spread of COVID-19.
Emily says that a key to creating a successful marketing/vaccination campaign is to not do it by yourself. Work with other teams in your organization and have open communication. There is more than likely someone who is willing to help and wants to be involved. In the words of Emily, “Do your homework, get to know your co-workers that can make it possible.” Emily recommends bringing written handouts, having risk tests, bring a scale (if you dare), and make the conversation light! Emily thanks their Wellness Works and marketing team, who are their champions in promoting King’s Daughters programs and having them in their corner helps them go even further with their diabetes prevention program and creating awareness within their community.
Learn how other healthcare professionals are making ADCES’ vision of optimal health and quality of life a reality for people with prediabetes and diabetes. Listen to and learn from the stories at DiabetesEducator.org/HealthEquity to see how you can begin addressing health inequities in your own area.
ADCES Perspectives on Diabetes Care
The Association of Diabetes Care & Education Specialists Perspectives on Diabetes Care covers diabetes, prediabetes and other cardiometabolic conditions. Not all views expressed reflect the official position of the Association of Diabetes Care & Education Specialists.
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