Get diabetes screening

Published 10:04 pm Thursday, January 29, 2015

If it seems like I write about diabetes a lot, both in my stories and in my columns, it’s because I do. But there’s a good reason for that.

The reason is that Suffolk and Western Tidewater have among the highest rates of diabetes, as well as complications and deaths from it, in Virginia. And a lot of organizations have been pouring a lot of resources into the area in the last few years to try to change that.

The American Diabetes Association has brought its Hampton Roads Tour de Cure fundraiser here — although the beautiful scenery reportedly had something to do with that, too. It also has sponsored a number of screening and education events, including a Victory Over Diabetes program that recruited church leaders to help inspire their fellow churchgoers to make lifestyle changes.

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The Obici Healthcare Foundation has made a number of grants in recent years to organizations, including the diabetes association, that are fighting the disease.

Eastern Virginia Medical School has helped with a lot of the screening events.

And finally, this week came the announcement that the EVMS Strelitz Diabetes Center of Western Tidewater — an extension of the Norfolk-based center that has existed for about 25 years — will open today at Sentara Obici Hospital’s medical office building.

In addition to coordinating care for diabetes complications, the center will serve two very important purposes that could help prevent complications from developing in the first place.

First, it will provide screenings for people who may not know they have diabetes. Screenings are important because, if diabetes is caught early, it sometimes can be reversed or managed well with the right lifestyle choices.

Screenings can also catch pre-diabetes, which can help prevent someone on the way to diabetes from fully developing the disease, again through weight management, eating right and getting physical activity.

Second, the center will help those with diabetes learn to manage their disease. Those who eat right, attain or maintain a reasonable weight and get plenty of physical activity often can reverse or better manage their disease.

Check out today’s news story for more information about the center, and make sure you swing by and get checked out, especially if you have risk factors like being overweight, having a family history or being a race other than white.

It could greatly prolong your life.