This site tells about a friendly diabetes support group in Hilo, Hawai‘i, started by the Bay Clinic, Inc., a Federally Certified Community Health Center. Diabetes patients are working together with friends and health providers to support themselves in a healthy lifestyle. Its participants think that groups like it can help bring down soaring health care costs because people become motivated to help themselves. "Self-management" is the new term to describe what is going on.
Here is the poster for the April 7, 2010 Bay Clinic event at Wailoa River State Park in Hilo.
First Wednesdays in the Park
The group likes to become involved in community events
that have a health theme. We pushed staff to start
having regular monthly meetings in a local park after
Haumea, the Director of Diabetes Education for the Bay Clinic, had scheduled a picnic there one time. It worked out
so well that we kept lobbying staff until they finally
put it on a regular schedule. The first Wednesday of
each month all the Bay Clinic's diabetes class and support groups are invited to meet at beautiful
Wailoa River State Park from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. The public is invited to these
• We have a speaker of general interest. Music groups or community drumming sometimes. Last month we learned how to make raised bed platforms out of discarded wood pallets. Another month Kim Hoffman told us about her and her husband’s project for one month in each of the past two years to eat nothing but locally raised food – this is not an easy project. Another time we learned about traditional Hawaiian medicines.
• A regular class about diabetes that Stacy Haumea has started offering to the general public,
the series of ten classes that is part of the series
only available for Bay Clinic patients.
• There is exercise
involving stretching and Tai Chi Chih routines led by by Hannah Hedrick, an inspirational
70-year-old woman who has had two hips and a femur
replaced. She also just happens to have
worked for former Surgeon General Everett Koop and
is a national
authority on self help groups. There are usually health
• Then we have a delicious potluck with everyone bringing diabetes-friendly dishes. The dishes available prove that you can eat delicious food even if you have to cut down on sugar and fat and salt.
A formal study of the Bay Clinic's diabetes program is described here: BayClinicProgramStudy.html. The complete study can be obtained from the Bay Clinic. To
obtain the two Program Study DVDs they have, send $15 for the Diabetes
Program DVDs to the Bay Clinic, 224 Haili Street,
Suite B, Hilo, HI 96720, Attention Monica Adams.
This will cover disc duplication, labeling, handling
One Warrior's Story - Tom Whitney
I learned I have Type 2 diabetes in 2007 when I went
to the Bay Clinic in Hilo, Hawaii, about an upper respiratory
problem: I was coughing frequently and stuffed up.
The doctor had some blood tests done and I learned
that my blood sugar was high and I was allergic to
many plants endemic to Hawaii. For the allergy I was
loratadine, which taken daily has stopped that problem.
After a repeat blood test, including an A1C test,
that showed 6.9%, the physician said I was right on
the verge of having diabetes. He recommended that I
the series of classes offered there at the clinic.
I signed up, took ten classes and have been attending
support group there ever since. The health industry
term for what we were involved in is Diabetes Self-Management
Education. Rather than seeing a doctor for six or
minutes and having them tell me what to do, I can see
health professional every week for years as I learn
to manage my symptoms. It is kind of ironical: at the
Clinic you learn how to manage the diabetes yourself,
Self-Management, yet you can see health providers
whenever you want if you are a Bay Clinic patient.
my experience with the classes in Whoa! Diabetes!
available as a PDF there in the left column. As the
continued, I produced another article about all the
delicious foods being created in the potlucks the group
I joined the Warriors Against Diabetes, a long-term
diabetes support group that
has been meeting together since 2005 when the first
of the Bay Clinic’s class series was completed. I have
been participating for two years. The dozen members
meet every week on Tuesdays at the Bay Clinic office
in Hilo. We check our numbers for blood pressure, blood
sugar and weight and then pay attention to that week’s
activity. The group has helped me lose about thirty
pounds and bring my diabetes symptoms under control.
a topic that someone has brought to the group, or we
might plan some community events, or go help put one
on. We will look at recent videos about diabetes. We
just about always have some delicious snacks or main
dishes that someone has created that is diabetes friendly.
We trade recipes a lot.
The group's diabetes symptoms are under control.
A survey of the group’s A1C percentage in September
of people's blood cells that have glucose attached to them is
6.42% compared with 8.11 % when they started. Normal
range is 4 to 6% and the target for diabetics is 7% or less.
If we need to see a health provider we can do that
after the support group meeting, so I have no complaints
about not being able to see my doctor when I need to!
They use the term health provider to include the
Advanced Practice Registered Nurses and Physician Assistants
can provide primary care and prescribe medicines pretty
much as physicians do. As a former Navy Hospital Corpsman,
the fact that they use people efficiently like this
in this region that lacks very many doctors, makes
of sense to me. Those health providers and Stacy
Haumea, who is a Nutritionist and Registered Dietitian
recently became a Certified Diabetes Educator, are
running the program. A physician is available if needed,
is mostly invisible.
The photograph at the right on the the top of this page is of
a group of people from the Marshall Islands who also
in their own long-term support group. They are singing
a song in Marshallese about making healthy food choices. They are having fun, and that is something we enjoy doing. Out attitude is that we all have the terminal disease called life, so we might as well "Live the sweet life healthy, and have some fun doing it!"
Here is an article about our group that appeared in the Hawaii AlohaCare Magazine recently.s appropriately
outlines of the letters as shown in the
you see here.
Some good diabetes-friendly recipes
Island Weekly Nov. 21, 2007.pdf