By SHEA STASKOWSKI
Oktibbeha County Hospital Regional Medical Center will host the first-ever Diabetes Fair Thursday, March 24.
“I was in a Lions Club meeting about a month ago and decided something needed to be done,” said Beverly Hammett, a local woman who is blind due to diabetes.
Hammett contacted OCH Diabetes Educator and Clinical Nutrition Manager Nicky Yeatman to inquire about the possibility of putting on a health fair that would address all the aspects of diabetes.
“We wanted to make it a community project because diabetes is one of the number one reasons people do go blind and one of the reasons people do die suddenly,” Hammett said.
“Diabetes is an epidemic in the United States and specifically in Mississippi,” Yeatman said. “Mississippi ranked the second highest in the US for overall diabetes prevalence in 2008, and over 245,000 adult Mississippians have type 2 diabetes, which is 11 percent of the population.”
Representatives from Nephrology Associates, Golden Triangle Planning and Development district, the Mayor’s Council on Disabilities, The Lions Club, REACH Center for the Blind, Mississippi Organ Recovery Agency, Mississippi State Department of Health, OCH Wellness Center, OCH Diabetes Management Center, durable medical equipment and diabetes supply companies will all be hosting booths and distributing information.
“Diabetes and its complications affects nearly every part of a person’s body,” Yeatman said. “Our goal is to help educate those with diabetes and the care givers of those with diabetes in the prevention of and management of these acute and chronic complications, which can include hypoglycemia, kidney disease, retinopathy (eye disease), heart disease and lower extremity amputations.”
The Lions Club will be conducting free vision screenings. They will also be collected old eye glasses, which will be restored and donated to people in need.
Blood glucose and blood pressure screenings will also be available during the fair, as well as cooking demonstrations at 2 and 5 p.m.
Though the fair will primarily focus on living a healthy life with diabetes, all of the community is invited to attend, learn more and get screened.
“With 26 million Americans in the US believed to have diabetes and the Centers for Disease Control projecting that one in three Americans will have diabetes by 2050, the chances are that the you or someone close to you will be affected by diabetes,” Yeatman said. “We want the person with diabetes as well as care givers and friends to know what resources are available to them and to be empowered towards self-management.”
People living with diabetes, or loved ones of someone with diabetes, are encouraged to bring a picture of themselves or their loved ones to the fair to be added to the Diabetes Wall of Fame. The wall will serve as a visual reminder that diabetes does not discriminate, and that diabetes can affect anyone, Hammett said.
The fair will he held at OCH from 1 to 6 p.m. March 24. Refreshments and door prizes are available and donations will be accepted to help assist others in obtaining comprehensive diabetes education, testing supplies, medications and other needs.
“We really want to get the word out about diabetes prevention, management and complications management,” Yeatman said. “If knowledge is power, hopefully this fair will empower people.”