Medical Academy Students Combat Diabetes Epidemic in RGV

Medical Academy Students Combating Diabetes Epidemic in RGV
Posted on 02/20/2018
Two Medical Academy students doing screenings on community membersA group of three students from South Texas Academy for Medical Professions (Medical Academy) in Olmito has made it a mission to counter the diabetes epidemic in the Rio Grande Valley (RGV).

Using knowledge gained about the disease through their health science courses at Medical Academy and outside research, students Maria Jimenez of San Benito, and Bristol Flores and Johana Velazquez, both of Brownsville, have sought out opportunities to educate those within their campus community and the larger RGV on the disease and care that must be taken.

Through Project Diabetes Obesity Control (DOC), an initiative of the University of Texas System’s Institute for Health Transformation that offers free glucose screenings and education at convenient locations throughout the RGV, they participated in screenings at local Walmarts and educated members of the community.

The girls have also presented – in English and Spanish – to staff members at the Medical Academy campus and members of their church regarding the importance of checking their blood sugar and knowing their numbers. To prepare for the presentations, the group created brochures in both languages to allow for attendees to take home pertinent information in the language with which they are most comfortable. Through a screening associated with one of their presentations, the girls ended up counseling an individual who was not aware of his high glucose count on the importance of seeing a doctor to begin treating the issue.

In honor of National Diabetes Awareness Month, they coordinated making Nov. 30 a “Blue Day” at school, decorating the campus in blue, the color given to the cause, and designating it as a day for wearing the color. Many of the students on campus dressed in support of their efforts. The students went into some of the classrooms to give a small survey on Diabetes in Hispanic homes, discussing the fact that Diabetes is most prevalent in Hispanics and to take that knowledge to their homes and share with their families.

Jimenez, Flores and Velazquez have also participated in many community events for this cause, including screenings at Valley Baptist Medical Center and the Diabetes Walk. They educated at Salud y Vida’s Diabetes class. They also created a “Diabetes Bingo” game, where each card called gave a fact about Diabetes, and played this game in the health fair portion of Medical Academy’s inaugural Run for Your Life 5K/Family Fun Run in December. They even formed a Facebook page to promote awareness.

To extend their reach, the girls formed a partnership with a church that works with people from the border region in Mexico. They created different items to sell to raise money to purchase glucometers to give to people in need. Having raised $150 so far, they were able to purchase 15 glucometers from Walmart, and to build on the girls’ efforts, the company donated 15 boxes of glucose testing strips to go with the machines.

Jimenez, Flores and Velazquez, all juniors, have competed in HOSA – Future Health Professionals – since their freshman year. They will compete in the Community Awareness event at the regional HOSA competition Feb. 22-23.