Diabetes and the Cherokee
I spent a recent Monday in Tahlequah talking to Cherokee Nation staff about diabetes. As is often the case, I had to leave out a lot of stuff. So I thought I’d share some of it here.
If you need a refresher, the story is here.
Dr. David Randall, chief of podiatry for the tribe, estimated 5 to 10 percent of diabetics are at risk of developing foot ulcers, about one-fifth of which lead to amputation.
Randall also said he thinks many people in the tribe’s 14-county jurisdictional area see others undergo procedures related to diabetes or suffer from its complications, increasing awareness of the disease and how to take care of oneself. He pointed out the tribe’s employee wellness program and the positive signs he has seen among his patients, most notably a “significant decrease” in amputations.
Diabetes Program Director Teresa Chaudoin said practically every Cherokee has a diabetic in the family. When she came to work for the tribe in 2001, her focus was largely clinical — after all, it was the most pressing. Later, she dove into prevention. Now the tribe has dietitians at each of its clinics and reports more people are able to manage their blood sugar.
“We’ve worked here to build a comprehensive, integrated program,” she said.
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