When Olga began the Diabetes Salud! program at the North Texas Community Health Center, she had no idea how sick she was. Her blood sugar level was 14%, while the recommended levels for someone with diabetes are less than 7%. Olga didn’t know what those numbers meant.
“When I came here I was really, really sick. It was really bad and I didn’t have anybody to explain to me what was happening to my body,” she said. “When I came here, [Diabetes Health Promoter] Ms. Gaby started talking to me and she really explained everything to me.”
The Diabetes Salud! program, part of United Way of Tarrant County’s LIVE WELL health initiative, provides counseling and education to help people with diabetes better manage their condition and improve or maintain their health. Insurance is not required. Many participants are surprised to learn that their favorite foods are making them sicker. Fifty-seven million Americans have high blood sugar levels, and one in four people with diabetes is undiagnosed.
Diabetes Salud! offers free counseling at home or over the phone, giving participants access to the program when it is convenient for them. “I could just call Ms. Gaby sometimes when I didn’t have an appointment. I would call her and she would just go through it on the phone,” Olga said.
When Olga was told about all of the things that were going to happen to her if she did not change her lifestyle, she was scared. The program made it easy for her to get the help she needed. Olga learned how to incorporate diet changes, exercise, and adherence to a medication routine to lower her blood sugar levels and change her life.
“I started working with all the papers she gave me and all of the information. When I came back I was really scared because I didn’t know how I was doing, but as I kept coming back more and more, my blood sugar went down to 7%,” she said.
Like Olga, 73% of Diabetes Salud! participants improve their blood sugar levels by at least 10%. “This program has been good for me,” Olga said.