By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
The Healthy Heart Initiative (HHI) recognized its participants at a luncheon held at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort on Wednesday, Aug. 21.
“Thank you all for all of your hard work,” Chenoa Gass, RN, HHI staff, told participants. “It’s an honor to be here today in this special group of people.”
The program has 98 active participants who, under the supervision and support of HHI staff, make lifestyle changes to help reduce the effects of diabetes. And, the program, now in its second year, is working.
Gass related that participants’ mean A1c has dropped from a starting baseline of 8.5 to 7.3 The mean weight has also dropped from a beginning 223.7 lbs. to 216.7 lbs. The program has an A1c goal of lower than 7 percent, and 48 percent of participants have now met that goal compared to only 32 percent a year ago.
“I would like to thank each of you for your hard work and dedication to the program,” said Cyndi Lambert, RN, BSN, Cherokee Diabetes and Healthy Heart Initiative program manager. “I commend you for all of the effort you’ve put forth.”
Marvel Welch, a program participant, was the guest speaker at Wednesday’s event. She told of having troubles keeping up with her grandson several years ago. “I was really struggling to keep my energy up with his. Three years ago, I started that healthy tract.”
This past summer, Welch participated in the Remember the Removal ride to from New Echota, Ga. to Tahlequah, Okla. “Without Healthy Heart, I would not have been able to do the Removal ride.”
She thanked the staff for their support and encouragement and related, “Today, I do not take medications for diabetes or high blood pressure, and I have lost 80 lbs. I can’t thank you guys enough for being there and directing me on my path.”
Following lunch, each participant was given a certificate of completion for one year or two years as well as a gift.
Gass added, “We are your support people, but you do all of the work. You guys are the ones making the improvements.”
HHI is funded through the Special Diabetes Program for Indians (SDPI) under the Indian Health Service. Information from SDPI states, “The Healthy Heart Initiative targets American Indians and Alaska Natives who have been diagnosed with diabetes. This project uses an intensive clinical, team-based case management approach to treat factors for cardiovascular disease, which is the number one killer of American Indian and Alaska Native adults.”
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