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Morehouse School of Medicine offers coaching program for diabetics

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ATLANTA -

Hearing the doctor say, "you've got diabetes," can be shocking. Suddenly, things like your blood sugar levels, and what's on your plate become important. But, local diabetics are getting some help from a new coaching program.

The coaches in the program are all volunteers, and they've been trained by the Morehouse School of Medicine. Their goal is to help people struggling with diabetes to take ownership of their health, and they started with members of Big Bethel Baptist Church.

For Robert Akins Jr., the church is his home. It's also where he's learning to take control of his diabetes.

"I didn't know about blood sugar levels until I became a diabetic.  I didn't know it drops, you don't eat, it drops, you know," said Akins.  

"Diabetes can sometimes be a lonely disease. And some people don't want people to know they have it," said church member Alicia Oden.

But Akin wants help, and he's getting help from Oden. Their church helped pilot Morehouse School of Medicine's e-healthy Strides Program, matching volunteer coaches with diabetics who need a little coaching.

"It's not about being sympathetic: ‘Oh, well, I'm sorry you have the disease.' That's not what they need. They need someone who is going to give them some structure, answers, give them some kind of plan, support them in that plan, encourage them in that plan," said Oden.

Morehouse School of Medicine is now reaching out to Atlanta City Hall. Dr. Priscilla Pemu is recruiting diabetic city workers who need a little coaching.

"That's our goal, is to simplify self-management and to make it available. It's behavior change," said Pemu.

With the program, you check your numbers, then enter them into a database that tracks how you're doing.

"What e-healthy shows back to you is either green, which is good, or yellow, slightly out of range, or red, you need to call your physician or caregiver and figure out what you need to do to make a change,' Pemu said.

Akin is realizing that a little knowledge, really is power.

"I've been learning as we go along, you know, but it's been helpful," said Akin.

Morehouse School of Medicine is partnering with the city of Atlanta. If your church or organization would like to participate in the e-healthy Strides, call Pamela Cooper at the Morehouse School of Medicine at 404-752-1975.

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