GW Faculty and Students Educate Community on Diabetes
More than 100 members of the local Latino community received valuable health information and more than half of those on hand received free A1c screenings to check for diabetes and prediabetes at the Second Annual EndoCares Health Fair on Nov. 17.
In 2017, the Endocrine Society, through its global outreach program EndoCares, partnered with the George Washington University (GW) and the Consulate General of Peru to launch a health fair in Washington, D.C., to reach out to the community and create awareness of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.
Last year’s event proved so popular that this year’s health fair was expanded to two locations, the Peruvian and Mexican consulates.
“The two consulates teamed up to allow us to engage more patients,” said Nicole Ehrhardt, MD, associate professor of medicine at the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences. “We were able to target anyone who came into the consulate for whatever reason. We had access to a more diverse population from across D.C., Maryland, and Virginia.”
Volunteers included Ehrhardt, who served as the lead endocrinologist, two nurses, volunteer medical assistants from the GW Department of Medicine, close to 30 GW medical and public health students. Former SMHS faculty member Nisha Nathan, MD, also returned to participate. Many of the students were Spanish-speaking and educated participants on various components of healthy eating, such as learning how to read a nutrition label, assessing the quality of food, managing portion sizes using the healthy plate example, and looking at sugar content in beverages as empty calories.
In addition to education and demonstrations, the team set up a clinic-type area where people could get their A1c point of care checks, received blood pressure monitoring, and have height and weight measured.
Second-year MD student Sanjana Rao, who also volunteered for the event last year, said that the health fair was a great opportunity for community outreach and for students to practice their medical Spanish.
“Ultimately, we go into medicine because we have a genuine desire to help others,” Rao said. “It’s nice to be able to do things like this to remind us of exactly that: why we decided to embark on this long journey to becoming physicians. Volunteering for an event like EndoCares, where we can directly provide people with health education they may not have had allows us to see how small measures can actually have a tangible impact on our community.”
This year, volunteers screened 54 individuals. Thirty-five percent of those screened tested positive for prediabetes mellitus, and two individuals were newly diagnosed with diabetes. Those found to have prediabetes were provided nutrition and exercise counseling.
The testing supplies was donated by Siemens Medical Solutions in support of the fair. Novo Nordisk, a Danish multinational pharmaceutical company helped sponsor the event and made it possible to provide participants with reusable lunch boxes with healthy snacks.
“Our purpose for the health fair was education,” said Ehrhardt. “We were there to counsel people on preventing diabetes through lifestyle changes.”