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CKMC schedules free evening diabetes classes
hea diabests CKMC
Toni Ahlgrim, Central Kansas Medical Center registered and licensed dietician, talks about diabetes during a recent meal-planning class. - photo by COURTESY PHOTO

In response to requests from the public, Central Kansas Medical Center has scheduled a series of free diabetes meal-planning classes that will be held in the evening. The hospital will kick off the new series Nov. 18, in observance of American Diabetes Month.

"We have been hearing about the need for these evening sessions and thought we would have our first one in November in observance of this special month," said Gloria Siefkes, R.N. and CKMC diabetes educator. "Those who are affected by diabetes or simply want more information about the disease are encouraged to sign up."

The event is set for 7-9 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 18 in Room 450 at CKMC. Toni Ahlgrim, CKMC registered and licensed dietician, will lead the class. The 2011 schedule for the free sessions is Feb. 17, May 19, Sept. 15 and Nov. 17.

Those interested should pre-register by calling Siefkes, 620-786-6457.

"Toni will share all types of information on how to plan for meals and count carbohydrates for families affected by diabetes," Siefkes said. "It is so important to eat right and maintain a healthy lifestyle."

Siefkes is also using the special month to remind central Kansans that CKMC regularly offers free diabetes classes during the day. Since the schedule can vary, Siefkes recommends that those interested call her about upcoming sessions.

One class focuses on adjusting to diabetes; using a meter and log book; obtaining supplies; taking medications; caring for feet, skin and teeth; preventing and treating complications; and treating hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia.

The other session is about meal planning and carb counting.

The American Diabetes Association is observing the one-year mark in its Stop Diabetes movement during November.

This is the "time to communicate the seriousness of diabetes and the importance of diabetes prevention and control," according to the ADA’s website. "With nearly 24 million children and adults in the United States living with diabetes, and an additional 57 million Americans at risk, there is no time to waste.

"One out of every three children born today will face a future with diabetes if current trends continue," it adds. "Diabetes is not merely a condition. It is a disease with deadly consequences. Drastic action is needed."

The death rate from diabetes continues to climb, Siefkes noted. Since 1987, it has increased by 45 percent, while death rates due to cancer, heart disease and stroke have declined.

Up to 70 percent of people with diabetes have mild to severe forms of nerve damage, and the rate of amputation for diabetics is 10 times higher than for people without the disease. Diabetes is the leading cause of new cases of blindness among adults and it is the leading cause of kidney failure.

In addition, the ADA estimates that the total national cost of diagnosed diabetes in the U.S. is $174 billion.