WILMINGTON — Bill LaSeur, 77, had struggled to get his diabetes under control for several years until mid-2016 when his wife, Mary, noticed an article in the Wilmington News Journal about a diabetes nutrition class being offered through the Clinton County Health Department.
Six months later, LaSeur’s diabetes issues are under control and because of that he is among the many happy cheerleaders for the year-old Clinton County Diabetes and Wellness Program. LaSeur credits the program with helping him start to make healthier decisions, particularly through November and December, the traditional over-eating and sedentary season of every year.
Uncontrolled diabetes is a leading cause of blindness, kidney disease, heart failure and stroke, according to Laura Knisley, a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator, who coordinates the educational program—a collaborative initiative of the Clinton County Health Department, HealthFirst for Clinton County and United Way of Clinton County.
“Simple lifestyle changes can prevent or delay the development of Type 2 diabetes and complications,” Knisley says.
The program is a response to the findings of the 2015 Community Health Needs Assessment commissioned by the health department, HealthFirst and Clinton Memorial Hospital. The assessment found that Clinton County’s age-adjusted death rate from diabetes and incidence of diabetes and high blood sugar are significantly higher than the state and country.
Clinton County’s age-adjusted death rate from diabetes and incidence of diabetes/high blood sugar are significantly higher than the state and country, according to information contained in the 2015 community health needs assessment commissioned by HealthFirst for Clinton County, the Clinton County Health Department and Clinton Memorial Hospital.
Diabetes education and prevention efforts are key components of the current shared plan of the Clinton County Family and Children First Council — a committee of public and private agencies, parents and others that assist in coordinating systems and services that positively engage and benefit families.
Mr. LaSeur had been discouraged, uninspired and unsuccessful in impacting his diabetes after taking other diabetes education classes, but says he quickly took to Knisley’s positivity and style of teaching.
“I am trying to be the perfect patient and Laura has really helped us out,” Mr. LaSeur said. “I have lost weight, I am watching my carbs, my blood pressure is running better, and I feel better.”
Knisley said that by the third class, “he was doing great — he caught on quickly.” She credits his success and that of others to small classes which allow for a lot of personalized education and follow-up support.
The LaSeurs are so thrilled with the program that you would think they could teach the classes after spending an hour with them in their household kitchen. They excitedly exhibit or talk about some of the foods (grilled fish and chicken, fruit) that have become their diet staples, the smaller portions they limit themselves to, and the other healthy habits (such as regular exercise) that are now just part of their routine.
“The LeSeurs are happy with the lifestyle changes they have made,” Knisley said. “Even though she is not diabetic, Mary has been able to learn with Bill about reading food labels and meal planning. Family members and support people are encouraged to attend and participate in the classes, they need to be knowledgeable about healthy choices as well in order for the person with diabetes or pre-diabetes to succeed.”
Like many people diagnosed with diabetes, Mr. LaSeur set some unrealistic goals when starting out. Knisley helped him understand that diabetes is different for everyone and needs change, “particularly as we age.”
He says his family physician, who also treats him for cardiac issues, has been impressed with the recent progress he has made and told him to “keep up the good work” at a recent check-up.
LaSeur says the program has saved his life. “I wish I could convince others to get in this program,” he said.
“People really like the fact that they are getting evidence-based information from a registered dietitian and not a layperson who has taken a class about diabetes, as many of other free programs offer,” Knisley says.
She says the response in the first year has been near overwhelming. More than 200 people have participated in various aspects of the program which she presents in area libraries and churches as well as at the Clinton County Annex and Clinton Memorial Hospital.
To hear about the program in William LaSeur’s own words, check out this video on the HealthFirst for Clinton County Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/HealthFirstCC/videos/1228935413831769/
For more information about the program, contact Laura Knisley at (937) 382-7221 extension 114 or at [email protected]