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UTHealth launches self-management & education program for diabetics

HOUSTON – (Nov. 28, 2011) – More than 25 million adults and children in the United States are living with diabetes and if trends continue, one in three American adults could have diabetes by 2050, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

In response to the growing number of diabetics, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Nursing’s Health Services (UTHS) has launched the Healthy Eating and Lifestyles Program (HELP).

“We want to provide residents of Houston and surrounding areas who have diabetes with support and proper knowledge on taking care of themselves,” said Laura Rooney, DNP, APRN, BC-ADM, nurse practitioner and coordinator of patient care activities at UTHS. She is also an assistant professor of clinical nursing at the UTHealth School of Nursing

The purpose of HELP is to educate diabetics and their families about the disease. Program enrollees will learn more about the disease process in order to reduce future complications from diabetes. “After all, knowledge is power and allows for control of their condition,” said Rooney.

HELP is certified by the American Association of Diabetes Educators.

The program focuses on self-management and enrollees will learn material such as seven healthy behaviors to control, cope and reduce complications from diabetes. Healthy eating and the importance of being active will also be emphasized as part of HELP. Peer-to-peer discussions and material provided by health care professionals will be important components to the program.

“The program will serve as an extension of the information health care providers give their patients,” said Rooney. “In addition to the healthy behaviors, we reinforce other areas that should be monitored such as foot care, eye exams and regular blood sugar testing.”

Another aspect of the program is the communication Rooney and colleagues will maintain with patient’s physicians throughout the Houston area. Program staff will provide follow-up dialogue with the referring physician or nurse practitioner to determine if information patients are learning in HELP sessions is being translated into their at-home health care.

Fees for HELP are covered by Medicare, Medicaid and most other insurance companies. The program will be open to only adults in the beginning but Rooney hopes to eventually serve children.

UTHS has provided primary care since 1991 to thousands of people in the Greater Houston area and is a part of the UTHealth School of Nursing. 

For more information on the HELP program, call 713-500-3248. 

Jade Waddy
Media Contact: 713-500-3030