By Melissa Taylor, Community HealthCorps Navigator at Salud Family Health Centers
One of my favorite aspects of serving with Community HealthCorps is that, in addition to helping underserved patients improve healthcare outcomes, I am able to participate in meaningful and interesting service projects with different organizations. Recently, I had the opportunity to volunteer at the American Diabetes Association Expo at the Convention Center in Denver, Colorado. This was a very valuable and educational experience because many of the patients I work with at Salud Family Health Centers have diabetes and the number of people with diabetes throughout the United States continues to increase every year.
With diabetes costing the healthcare system an immense amount of money annually and afflicting millions of Americans (and many of the Salud patients), I took advantage of this opportunity to learn about the various organizations and products out there to help diabetics manage this disease. I was amazed at how many nutrition and exercise products exist to help diabetic patients, but also deterred at inaccessibility to the Salud patient population due to high cost.
I served as a Youth Area Volunteer and spent the day educating children about diabetes and the importance of eating healthy and exercising. I was amazed at how much the kids wanted to learn about diabetes and how to make healthy choices now so that they could incorporate healthy habits early on. Although there were many expensive nutrition and exercise products featured at the Expo, I couldn’t help but feel that by providing education to the youth at the Expo was the most effective (and cheapest) long-term solution for preventing diabetes in the future, but planting the seed for a healthy lifestyle.
Over ten thousand health center patients have been served by Community HealthCorps Navigators since August 2012 within the health issue of diabetes. Additionally, 15,409 health center patients have received Nutrition Counseling/Education by Navigators too!