Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Diabetes is of epidemic concern in Niagara County where one in 10 adults is affected by the disease.
Due to the current situation, the county Department of Health and the county Diabetes Coalition are spearheading an effort for a "Diabetes Screening Day" set for Sept. 19, with the four area hospitals participating.
Claudia Kurtzworth, director of public health education for the county, said the hospitals will conduct free screenings and provide information to the public. Those attending will have the opportunity to speak with dietitians and diabetes educators, receive free blood glucose and blood pressure checks, in addition to wellness and health insurance information.
As Kurtzworth and health officials often caution, diabetes increases risk for many problems affecting the heart, liver, kidneys, eyes, ears, skin, the digestive system, muscles and nervous system and reproductive systems. Also, the prevalence of gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy) in the county and state continues to increase, remaining higher than the national average.
Mary Degnan, M.S., R.D., director of nutrition at Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center, said the screening day is a collective move by the hospitals to address a serious health issue in the community and to educate people on how to deal with it.
Degnan said that early detection is vital. "We can do more through intervention now," she added, noting many people walk around unaware that they have diabetes.
How can people even know if they have diabetes? Degnan listed a number of symptoms such persons often experience: Frequent urination, being very thirsty, losing weight, blurry vision, increased hunger, unexplained fatigue, tingling or numbness in the hands or feet.
Daniel J. Stapleton, the county public health director, said, "The opportunity to have all our hospitals in the county working together to educate and inform our communities is critical to fighting this epidemic.
Physicians say that people with diabetes should learn how to monitor their blood glucose. They explain that daily testing will determine how well their meal plan, activities plan and medication are working to keep blood gluecose levels in a normal range.FREE SCREENING DAY The Sept. 19 schedule for area hospitals • EASTERN NIAGARA HOSPITAL: (Lockport, 514-5688 and Newfane, 778-5111, ext. 4220), 10 a.m. to noon and 3 to 5 p.m. • MOUNT ST. MARY'S HOSPITAL: (Lewiston, 298-2297) A1C Blood Draws, 2 to 4 p.m. and the AC Champions Program, 4 to 5 p.m. Tickets may be purchased for the "Dinner With the Dietitian" at 5 p.m. • NIAGARA FALLS MEMORIAL MEDICAL CENTER: (278-4360) 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Auditorium A and B, and the presentation of "The ABCs of Diabetes," at noon • DEGRAFF MEMORIAL HOSPITAL: (North Tonawanda, 690-2005), 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.