A welcome health care addition

Published 10:14 pm Friday, January 30, 2015

Diabetes is a growing problem around the nation, and Suffolk and the rest of Western Tidewater are experiencing the disease, along with its life-threatening consequences, at a rate that ranks among the highest in the commonwealth, according to the Virginia Department of Health.

Various health agencies and nonprofit organizations have made fighting the disease their top priority in recent years. The Suffolk Partnership for a Healthy Community, the Western Tidewater Free Clinic and the Obici Healthcare Foundation all have instituted, funded or supported a variety of programs designed to educate people in Suffolk about the dangers of diabetes, the lifestyle changes that can help people reduce the risk of getting the disease and the things they can do to improve their health if they’ve already been diagnosed with the disease.

The Eastern Virginia Medical School’s Strelitz Diabetes Center joined the fight this week with the opening of its Western Tidewater diabetes clinic at Sentara Obici Hospital’s medical office building on Godwin Boulevard.

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The weekly clinic will take place every Friday. Screenings, lifestyle intervention and coordination with specialty services — doctors for the kidneys, eyes and feet, body parts commonly struck by serious complications of diabetes — will be offered.

Officials from EVMS said the need for the clinic became apparent during the past few years as area diabetes screening events began to show that about half of the people screened for the disease locally were found to have Type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes and that most of them did not already know they had the condition.

Medical care providers involved in the program will work with patients to identify lifestyle changes they can make to improve their health and to help them deal with the serious complications that can be associated with diabetes.

The Strelitz Center has a 25-year history of helping people in Norfolk and the surrounding areas to combat the disease, and its presence in Suffolk should be a boon to the health of folks who live too far from Norfolk to travel there for regular diabetes management. The Suffolk center is a welcome addition to the health care environment of Western Tidewater.