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Coeur d'Alene Tribe takes proactive approach in diabetes fight

The Benewah Medical and Wellness Center in Plummer, Idaho. Photo from BMCWC

The Coeur d’Alene Tribe of Idaho is seeing success with its diabetes prevention and treatment programs.

According to a 2014 report from the Indian Health Service, 61 percent of patients at the Benewah Medical and Wellness Center on the reservation were successfully managing the disease. That's a marked improvement from 2010, when fewer than half -- around 49 percent -- were taking steps to control their diet and maintain an exercise routine.

YouTube: the qhest life: "Changes"

"We’re trying to get them in to get a diagnosis earlier,” Carla Patterson, a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator at the center, told The Spokesman-Review. “Because some people don’t realize they’re walking around with diabetes or with pre-diabetes.”

The tribe is making changes elsewhere on the reservation too. The Benewah Market is adding more fresh produce and another market inside a convenience store is also bringing in more healthy options.

“We’re creating access to healthy, traditional foods and access to physical activity, with a cultural emphasis,” LoVina Louie, the coordinator of the tribe's Hnqhesnet Project, told the paper. Hnqhesnet means "it is our well-being" in the Salish language.

To help tribes nationwide combat the disease, Congress just renewed the Special Diabetes Program for Indians for another two years as part of H.R.2, the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act. The program provides $150 million in annual diabetes prevention and treatment grants to tribes and tribal organizations.

President Barack Obama signed the bill into law on April 16.

Get the Story:
‘Turning the tide’: Coeur d’Alene Tribe taking proactive approach to diabetes (The Spokesman-Review 4/26)

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