November 22, 2017
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker signed a proclamation Wednesday recognizing November as Diabetes Awareness Month in hopes of continuing to raise awareness and educate tribal citizens on the disease.
“Diabetes is an epidemic that touches not only Indian Country, but all parts of the world. Within the Cherokee Nation Health Department, we treat more than 10,000 patients annually for this disease,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker. “We have increased efforts to educate and help our citizens better prevent the disabling effects of diabetes. We are proud to continue raising awareness and we will keep providing the resources that help Cherokees live better and healthier lives.”
In 2004, the tribe began the first tribal Diabetes Self-Management Education program to be accredited through the American Association of Diabetes Educators. Currently, more than eleven percent of Cherokee Nation Health Services patients have been diagnosed with diabetes and are seeking treatment through the Cherokee Nation Diabetes Program.
“The Cherokee Nation Diabetes Program is one of the most vital resources we have for citizens struggling with their diabetes,” said Cherokee Nation Health Services Interim Executive Director Dr. Charles Grim. “The program is a one-on-one setting where they learn how to make small changes that lead to big improvements in their health.”
As part of the diabetes program, patients have one-on-one visits with a registered dietician and get help with other complications related to the disease, including podiatry, physical therapy or ophthalmologic needs.
Cherokee Nation citizen Tamara Grooms was invited by Chief Baker to join him and other tribal and health officials for the proclamation signing at the W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex. Passionate about raising awareness, Grooms hopes that spreading awareness of the disease will benefit other Cherokee Nation citizens.
“There is so much about this disease that people don’t know about. It does include eating healthy and checking blood sugars, but there are so many other factors,” said Grooms.
In addition to the Cherokee Nation Diabetes program, Cherokee Nation citizens have access to programs like food distribution, the Male Seminary Recreation Center, the Healthy Native program and public health diabetes courses that promote healthy lifestyles.
Cherokee Nation Health Services offers diabetes programs at W.W. Hastings Hospital in Tahlequah, Wilma P. Mankiller Health Center in Stilwell, Redbird Smith Health Center in Sallisaw, Sam Hider Health Center in Jay, A-Mo Health Center in Salina and Three Rivers Health Center in Muskogee.
For more information on the Cherokee Nation Diabetes Program, call 800-256-0671.