Since it began five years ago, the Health Extension for Diabetes program has helped hundreds of people across the state of South Carolina, and the program’s work has garnered state recognition.
The program recently received the State Impact Award presented by the Alliance for a Healthier South Carolina as part of its Live Healthy SC (LHSC) awards for 2022. This award recognizes a state-level organization or coalition that demonstrates a commitment to support and acts under the LHSC plan, using a collaborative approach for state health improvement.
“The Health Extension for Diabetes is very deserving of this prestigious award as this program is taking an innovative approach to addressing diabetes, one of the leading chronic health conditions of South Carolina,” said Monty Robertson, executive director of the Alliance for a Healthier South Carolina.
The Health Extension for Diabetes program was initially funded in 2017 by a Greenville Health Authority seed grant. Since then, about 900 individuals across SC have enrolled in the program. Health Extension for Diabetes is a free diabetes support program that aims to help individuals better manage diabetes to prevent or delay complications. As the program has continued to expand across the state, the program team has enrolled individuals from more than 30 counties.
The program is offered both in-person and online and is also available to native Spanish speakers. The materials have been translated and adapted, and the program can be facilitated in Spanish by a bilingual Extension agent.
The program is also listed on the Diabetes Support Directory, a free online tool to help connect communities to a qualified, American Diabetes Association-recognized diabetes support program. The association’s Diabetes Support Initiative, which includes the directory, assures that diabetes program curricula, such as Clemson’s, meet its criteria for support programming and align with the Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes and demonstrate significant positive health outcomes. The programs in the directory must also have evidence demonstrating the program’s impact, which includes the participant’s development of coping skills and behaviors to self-manage diabetes on an ongoing basis.
The Health Extension for Diabetes program leadership team includes Windsor Westbrook Sherrill, Clemson University associate vice president for health research and Department of Public Health Sciences professor, Michelle Parisi, Clemson’s director of Nutrition and Health Extension Programs, Danielle McFall, Extension associate on the Clemson Health and Nutrition Extension Program team and Michelle Stancil, manager of Diabetes Management at Prisma Health in the Upstate.
“This program is everything we hoped it would be,” Sherrill said. “What started as a pilot program in Greenville is now available throughout the entire state. We are building this program to help meet the land-grant mission of the University and to change health outcomes.”
In the upcoming years, the program team plans to continue to expand program to reach more of the state’s counties, and also partner with American Diabetes Program to integrate their Know Diabetes By Heart initiative into the program. The team’s ultimate goal for the program is to get it licensed, so land grant university partners in other states can implement the program. Diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death in South Carolina according to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, and Parisi says that programs like the Health Extension for Diabetes program empower patients to educate themselves on their disease and improve their health.
“Diabetes is a disease that affects about 500,000 people in South Carolina, and we want to make sure this program is available to people in all 46 counties,” Parisi said. “Through this program, we are doing everything we can to improve the lives of South Carolinians, and as we grow this program, we are hopeful it can help those outside of our state.”
The Department of Public Health Sciences is a part of the College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences, a 21st-century land-grant college joining together a unique combination of schools and departments: Communication, Nursing, Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management, Political Science, Psychology, Public Health Sciences and Sociology, Anthropology and Criminal Justice. These areas have distinctive characteristics and missions – all joined together by a common thread of service to people and communities.
With offices in all 46 counties of the state, Clemson Extension improves the quality of life of all South Carolinians by providing unbiased, research-based information through an array of public outreach programs in youth development; agribusiness; agriculture; food, nutrition and health; and natural resources.
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