ROCKINGHAM — In North Carolina in 2015, the diabetes mortality rate (number of deaths in a population) was 22.2 per 100,000 while the rate of diabetes prevalence (number diagnosed) was 9.8 percent. The rate of prediabetes prevalence (diagnosed as pre-diabetic) was 5.1 percent.
During the same period, the mortality rate of Richmond County (population approximately 46,600) was 54.8 percent per 100,000, its diabetes prevalence rate was 22.9 percent and its rate of prediabetes prevalence was 6.8 percent.
FirstHealth of the Carolinas will approach these alarming statistics with a program funded by a two-year $263,109 grant to its Community Health Services department from the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust. The funds will address pre-diabetes in both Richmond and Montgomery counties (another community with high diabetes and pre-diabetes rates) by offering glucose screenings in non-traditional locations.
Individuals with a pre-diabetes glucose result will be referred to an evidence-based pre-diabetes education curriculum developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A structured lifestyle change program developed specifically to prevent type 2 diabetes, the program is designed for people who have pre-diabetes or are at risk for type 2 diabetes, but have not developed full-blown diabetes.
A trained lifestyle coach will work with participants to help them change certain aspects of their lifestyle, including eating healthier, reducing stress and getting more physical activity. Participants in the program, which will meet one time a week for 16 weeks, bi-monthly for the following two months and then once a month for the rest of the year, also get group support from others who share similar goals and struggles.
“We have very strong partners in our 2020 Task Force groups in these two counties,” Roxanne Elliott, policy director for FirstHealth Community Health Services, said. “Our health programs team will coordinate the pre-diabetes project, and we will work with our partners to help refer into the program and assist with promoting and scheduling the glucose screenings.”
The Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust was established in 1946 as the legacy of the late Kate Gertrude Bitting Reynolds, who was married to William Neal Reynolds, chairman of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. Its mission is to improve the quality of life and the quality of health for the financially needy of North Carolina.
“We are very grateful to the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust for providing the funding that will help us address a health issue of great concern in Richmond County,” John Jackson, president of FirstHealth Richmond Memorial Hospital in Rockingham and Sandhills Regional Medical Center in Hamlet, said. “Type 2 diabetes affects too many people in our community. We hope this program, which is geared toward people who are at risk for diabetes but have not yet developed the disease, will make an enormous difference in their lives as well as in the health and well-being of the Richmond County community.”
For more information about FirstHealth’s pre-diabetes program, contact Roxanne Elliott, of FirstHealth Community Health Services, at 910-715-3487.