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Elgin hospital targets diabetes among Latinos

July 02, 2017
By Elena Ferrarin

  • Pilar López recibió una prueba de detección de glucosa gratuita el mes pasado en St. Mary’s Catholic Church en Elgin. La atendió Luis Villalobos, un técnico de atención al paciente quien trabaja en Advocate Sherman Hospital.
    Patient Pilar Lopez got a free glucose screening last month at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Elgin. She was helped by Luis Villalobos, a patient care technician who works at Advocate Sherman Hospital.

Angel Grimaldo was happy to find out his blood sugar level was normal, but also shocked to see — literally — how much sugar there is in a can of soda.

Grimaldo, 62, of Elgin, is among hundreds of Latinos who have received free glucose screenings in the last year from Advocate Sherman Hospital, which has been doing outreach at various locations in the community, including churches, factories and the public library.

He especially liked a display showing, side by side, various sodas and juices, and the quantity of sugar they contain, he said.

“I took a photo and showed it to my stepdaughter because she drinks a lot of Coca-Cola. I told her, ‘Look, this is the problem with that,’” he said.

“I showed my wife, too. We eat a lot of foods that they showed aren’t so good.”

Diabetes has been on the rise nationally and disproportionally affects minorities, data shows.

More than 50 percent of Hispanics are expected to develop Type 2 diabetes in their lifetimes, compared to 40 percent of adults overall, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hispanics are about 50 percent more likely to die from diabetes than whites.

Grimaldo is a parishioner at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Elgin, which the hospital team visited last month to offer glucose screenings — a finger “prick” yielding on-the-spot results — along with consultations with a physician and dietitian.

If people’s glucose level is high, they are encouraged to make an appointment at Sherman’s Diabetes Center, said Paola A. Velasquez, manager of communications and translation services at the hospital. Latinos constitute 60 percent of clients at the center, she said.

The outreach effort has yielded positive results, with an increase in appointments for endocrinologists, who specialize in the treatment of diabetes, and in the overall number of referrals to endocrinologists, family doctors and internal medicine doctors, Velasquez said.

A frequent spot for the free screenings is the Elgin Shopping Mall on McLean Boulevard, which averages about 30 patients a day, she said. That site will be on hiatus for the summer, when screenings will take place during National Night Out on Aug. 1 and likely at Elgin Fresh Market, she said.

Latinos tend to not talk about health matters, but they should, Grimaldo said.

“It’s important,” he said. “It was very interesting, with all the information they give.”

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