County Partnership Offers Diabetes Education

July 23, 2013

July 23, 2013—The Doña Ana County Health and Human Services Department and Memorial Medical Center have launched an educational awareness program to help people live a healthier lifestyle with diabetes.

            “Nuestra Vida” began in January 2013 and is expected to continue until February 2014. The initial vision of the pilot program began two years ago, motivated by health promotoras in Doña Ana County’s rural communities where diabetics in Doña Ana County were having trouble finding health-related information on living with diabetes.

            According to Doña Ana County Health and Human Services Manager Jamie Michael, Nuestra Vida is a preventative measure intended to reach out to those in need.

            “The purpose of this program is to educate the community on health and wellness, which will hopefully prevent them from going to the emergency room for issues that are completely preventable.”

            The program is designed to educate these communities with right diets, exercise, change in life style and medicine within their means. Maria Miranda, RN, Diabetic Educator from MMC, said, “To be able to teach these classes you must be culturally sensitive to understand the community.”

              Diabetes classes are held once a week at the Vado/Del Cerro Community Resource Center and the Doña Ana Community Resource Center. Classes run for approximately two and a half hours and are open to adults over 18 years of age who have diabetes, pre-diabetes or suspect they might have the disease.

            According to Cruz Saenz, a health promotora with the program, classes are also offered in both English and Spanish.

“It is important to offer an environment where people are comfortable to ask questions in their own language,” said Saenz.

            In addition to the health awareness classes, people can also participate in Zumba classes, cooking classes, gardening, and trips to the market where they can learn about healthier food choices.

            Program organizers say they have received a positive response from everyone involved.

            “The program works because doctors are able to give each person the time they need to ask questions and have those questions answered. The people we serve often tell us they don’t feel they can do that with many practitioners,” said health promotora Linda Gallardo.

“If we educate the community, then we empower them to be healthy community members. By doing that, we reach all age groups and generations,” Miranda said.

It works like a chain: one person getting educated will take that information and apply it in their homes. Then the family will learn and pass the message along at work, school or with friends.

“This program demonstrates it can work! When people have knowledge they are empowered to change their lives,” Miranda said.

For more information on the Nuestra Vida program, contact Jamie Michael with the Doña Ana County Health and Human Services Department, (575) 525-5969.