Diabetes screening part of pilot program

Meadow Lake one of three in province

By Rhonda Cooper

Meadow Lake’s Door of Hope is helping to pave the way for a brand new diabetic screening program offered by the Canadian Diabetes Association called the Urban Low Income Diabetes Risk Assessment Program.

“Diabetes is a big problem in Northern Saskatchewan,” said Rosemarie Metz, director of the main ministry at the Door of Hope. “I think it’s wonderful, especially given with the problems at the clinic. There are people who can’t get in or won’t go in and this brings the service to them.”

Dianne Million, Chronic Disease Educator specializing in diabetes and heart education for Meadow Lake and area, cites the program as being a way of catching those who may not otherwise seek or receive medical attention for such chronic conditions.

“For some, it is the only contact they will have with a health care professional,” she said. “So it is an opportunity to pick up on people who are falling through the cracks.”

Million explained Meadow Lake was one of three randomly selected locations within Saskatchewan chosen to pilot the project.

“Two were from Prairie North – North Battleford and Meadow Lake. Prince Albert is the other,” she said.

“Our program is different than the ones in the other two locations,” Million noted. “Meadow Lake is a unique situation, so we often tweak programs so they work more effectively. There are more people frequenting the Door of Hope’s lunch program than the food bank so we decided to utilize the lunch program rather than the food bank. Both North Battleford and Prince Albert are operating out of food bank locations. Because of the lunch program, we decided instead of offering grocery vouchers to program participants, we provided an evening meal. We felt it was more effective than vouchers.”

It paid off as 10-15 people showed up for the first session held in October. Diabetes testing, as well as checking of blood pressure and sugar levels, were all part of the appointment. There have been three more sessions since the initial Oct. 6 one and Million reported there have been a number of return clients. Currently the program focuses solely on the testing and screening process but Million hopes an educational component will be added.

Nicole Braun, the CDA’s project coordinator, said this program is unique to Saskatchewan.

Meadow Lake was chosen as it was located in Northern Saskatchewan and there were people here willing to partner with the CDA in providing the service.

“Our hope is once we have formed these partnerships, the partners will continue to maintain the program after the project ends,” said Braun.

Currently, funding for the program is provided by the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Braun stated that more than 200 people have been seen across the three sites and 80 per cent of participants identified themselves as aboriginal. Approximately 30 per cent have been referred to a doctor for follow-up or further risk assessments.

“We have been able to step out of the box and interact with people who we probably would not normally see otherwise,” added Braun.

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