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Hospital receives grant for diabetes education

Sunnyside Community Hospital has received a $2,700 Rural Health Improvement grant from the Washington Health Foundation to implement a diabetes education program.

As a part of the program the hospital plans to create an eight-member team to assist patients that are newly diagnosed with diabetes.

According to Sandra Linde, the program organizer for Sunnyside Community Hospital, the program will not only help those newly diagnosed with diabetes, but it will also help those who have been determined pre-diabetic.

Linde said the pre-diabetic diagnosis is new to the hospital, but it is a way to identify those at risk of becoming diabetic and educate them about ways to slow down or stop a diabetes diagnosis.

She said the program will involve cooking classes and an outreach to women who experience diabetes while pregnant.

"This is something that's so timely for our community," said Linde.

She said that by educating those with the signs of diabetes on lifestyle changes and changes to diet and exercise, they may be able to slow the diabetes rate in the Lower Valley.

The program will be a partnership with the National Diabetes Education Program, according to Jessica Moseley of the Washington Health Foundation. The hospital will look to the education program for guidance and support.

Sunnyside Community Hospital was selected for the grant because of its proximity to a population at high risk for diabetes. According to Moseley, residents in Sunnyside, Mabton, Granger, Grandview and Mattawa are demographically at high risk and the closest diabetes center is 20 miles away in Toppenish.

"We realize the importance of educating people about diabetes, effective methods of managing the disease and ways to prevent the more serious results of uncontrolled diabetes," said Jon Smiley, CEO of Sunnyside Community Hospital. "We look forward to the prospect of working with the Washington Health Foundation in this important effort and appreciate the opportunity to improve the health care and quality of life in the communities of Washington state."

Moseley said Sunnyside Community Hospital plans to raise diabetes awareness through the media, quarterly events and participation in health fairs.

According to Moseley, vulnerable populations, financial pressures and fragmentation contributes to the difficulty that rural communities, such as those in the Lower Valley, have with maintaining their health care systems.

The $2,700 awarded to Sunnyside Community Hospital is part of more than 200 grants valued at $8.5 million awarded by the Rural Health Improvement Grant program over the past five years. Grant awards range in value from $500 to $15,000.

. Melissa Dekker can be contacted at (509) 837-4500, or e-mail mdekker@eaglenewspapers.com

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