Graduating towards a better health.
That's exactly what 80 Type 2 diabetics did Friday through the Community Health and Wellness Center at Lehigh Valley Health Network.
The Lehigh Valley Health Network has hosted a free eight week "Diabetes self-management program" in English and in Spanish for the past seven years.
Program Facilitator, Alicia Rivera said most of their patients are Latino.
“Around Allentown we have a large number of diabetics, a larger number being Hispanics and the purpose of this program is to help our community members to bring them in and to teach them how to monitor and how to understand diabetes” said Rivera.
Friday, was graduation day.
"I learned a lot, I learned how to eat, how to take care of myself something I didn't know how to do," said graduate Barbara Roman.
"A lot of them are told they're diabetic but once they leave the doctor's office they don't know what that means, they don't know what's going to happen to them,” said Rivera.
The program starts by introducing patients to diabetes, how it works and its effects on the human body.
"Then we go into monitoring, how are you going to monitor yourself, why is it important to monitor yourself and then we do some nutrition," said Rivera.
The classes also cover carb-counting, exercise and explanation of the A1C blood test which is critical to diabetics.
"I think it's extremely important because many patients don't realize how much they could gain and learn through these programs and once they gain that knowledge, the confidence level goes up, you're not fearful anymore of this condition and you actually get to live a normal life," said Dr. Edgardo Maldonado, Medical Director of Internal Medicine Community Practices and Patient Programs.
Once graduated, patients are invited to join a support group called “Fe, Esperanza y Esfuerzo” or “Faith, Hope and Effort” which meets once a month to help patients continue their path towards a better health.
"If you apply it, you can do it, if you don't apply it than you're not going to be able to do it for yourself, that's what's important" said Roman.
The program is free and is available to patients of the Lehigh Valley Health Network, all patients need is a referral from their doctor.
For more information call the Community Health and Wellness Center at 610-969-2800.