Tampa General Hospital

Tampa General Hospital’s Community Education Helps Prevent Diabetes

Tampa, FL

Not-for-Profit Hospital

1,011 Beds

Tampa General Hospital has offered community health education in a variety of areas for over 15 years.  The programs are adjusted regularly to respond to new and emerging issues identified in the hospital’s community health needs assessment. Although the hospital has offered diabetes management programs for some time, the recent needs assessment elevated the importance of diabetes prevention.

Diabetes is the sixth leading cause of death in Florida, and the seventh leading cause of death in Hillsborough County. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that more than 79 million Americans age 20 and older have pre-diabetes. The vast majority of people living with pre-diabetes do not know they have it. A pre-diabetic has a blood sugar level higher than normal, but not high enough for a diabetes diagnosis. Pre-diabetes is a serious health condition that increases the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

Community Health Education Suzan Mekler leads a 16-week Diabetes Prevention Program at the Tampa General Medical Group office on Lois Avenue on May 20, 2015.

“With guidance from our instructor, Carl is now breathing and feeling better than he has in a long time. He has a 60-minute walk and workout routine, and we are making better food choices.  I joined with him; now, I am losing weight and feeling better also.” – Candice, wife of a pre-diabetic patient with COPD

Tampa General Hospital’s National Diabetes Prevention & Lifestyle Change Program provides the opportunity to prevent diabetes from developing. The CDC-led program uses an evidence-based approach to reduce the risk of diabetes through a course that helps participants achieve optimal weight and maintain healthier lifestyles by improving their food choices, increasing physical activity and learning coping skills.

The free class meets weekly for 16 weeks, providing education on nutrition, cooking, exercise and encouragement.  Following the weekly meetings, participants continue to convene monthly for eight months to practice what they have learned, ask questions and support one another in their new lifestyle changes.

Community Health Education Suzan Mekler leads a 16-week Diabetes Prevention Program at the Tampa General Medical Group office on Lois Avenue on May 20, 2015.

“I want to express how effective Susan Mekler was as our coach in the Diabetes Prevention Program. Like everyone, I was caught up with a busy life and jotting down everything I ate was definitely not at the top of my priorities.  Had it not been for Susan’s ability to keep us going with her down to earth nature, I’m not sure I would have returned every week.” – Ada Freyre, program participant

Since January 2014, 42 individuals have taken the Diabetes Prevention Program course.  Of those, 35 participants completed half or more of the 16 sessions.  During the course of one year, the total weight of those 35 participants dropped from 7,217 pounds to 6,836 pounds, a reduction of 5.28 percent. The program helps one individual at a time, making lifestyle changes that result in adopting healthy habits, reduced weight and lowered glucose levels.

Tampa General Hospital offers the Diabetes Prevention Program as a part of its response to community health needs.  In addition to diabetes prevention, the hospital offers community health resources and education to address emerging health needs relating to smoking cessation, asthma, blood pressure management, cancer, complementary medicine, cosmetic surgery, CPR, diabetes care management, habits for healthy kids, heart failure, living healthy with chronic conditions, Medicare, nutrition, Parkinson’s disease, balance, Qigong (a slow, gentle-moving Chinese practice) and advance directives.