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ECHN Staff Gets Creative to Connect with Diabetes Prevention Program Participants During COVID-19 Lockdown


MANCHESTER, Conn. –August 31, 2020 – When the pandemic lockdown prevented them from having any in-person contact with their patients who are either prediabetic or at risk for Type 2 diabetes, Aimee Chandler and Jillian Miner got creative.

In May, the two lifestyle coaches with the Eastern Connecticut Health Network (ECHN) Diabetes Prevention Program began scripting and recording weekly videos – from their own homes where they are both self-isolating – to help motivate their patients and keep them on track. The Monday Motivation videos, which give tips on such topics as how to eat healthy, exercise, manage stress and set goals while confined at home during the pandemic, are posted on various social media where program participants – and anyone else, for that matter – can view them.

“We’re trying to motivate people to continue to be healthy during these difficult times,” said Chandler. “When people are miserable, cooped up at home, unable to go outdoors and exercise because of the weather, they may tend to overeat or drink a little too much and gain those extra COVID-19 pounds.”

Added Miner, “I know it’s been hard for some of our patients when they can’t come to our regular meetings. Sending them links to these videos that Aimee and I have been making helps them feel like they’re still connected to the program.”

Liz Davis misses the support she got from other Diabetes Prevention Program participants when they were still able to meet as a group, but she loves the videos. “They really ring the bell and remind you what it is you’re supposed to be doing to stay healthy,” she said. “The videos are so supportive and informational and non-judgmental.”

The Diabetes Prevention Program, which is offered free to participants, was forced to go virtual and put some classes on hold when COVID-19 hit, according to Katie Gustavesen, Diabetes Program Coordinator, who is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. “People are getting used to the virtual classes,” Gustavesen said. “Some people like them because they’re able to participate from the comfort of their own home while their kids are running around in the background. It’s important for people with diabetes and people who are at risk of diabetes stay on track with their health, even during the pandemic. We’re here to help them do that.”

Known as PreventT2, ECHN’s year-long lifestyle change program offers participants the skills they need to lose weight, be more physically active and manage stress. Participants are encouraged and guided by a trained lifestyle coach and supported by other participants who share the same goals. ECHN is one of just 14 recognized organizations in Connecticut that deliver evidence-based diabetes prevention programs.

The National Diabetes Prevention Program’s research indicates that adults with prediabetes who learn to make healthy changes in their lifestyle can cut their risk of type 2 diabetes by as much as 58% (71% for those over 60). Patients who participate in lifestyle intervention programs are estimated to have the onset of type 2 diabetes delayed by 11.1 years, while patients using metformin – the most common medication used to treat type 2 diabetes – are estimated to have the onset of the disease delayed by only 3.4 years.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 34 million people in the United States have diabetes, and 1 in 5 of them don’t know they have it. More than 88 million US adults—over a third—have prediabetes, and more than 80% of them don’t know they have it.

To be eligible for the ECHN Diabetes Prevention Program, participants must be 18 years or older, with a Body Mass Index of greater than 25 and no previous diagnosis of type 1 or type 2 diabetes. To sign up for a class or for more information, call (860) 647-6824 or visit www.echn.org/blockdiabetes. The Monday Motivation videos can be viewed at https://www.facebook.com/ECHNSocial

Stress Video: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=301442277830081&extid=SUbMvCqp0J8XJcFi

Don’t Skimp on Sleep: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=1747528202070925&extid=jqUX0dkhiP8K4c1s

Healthy Person: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=2542526556060319&extid=sPkBP5kFb9S2wxG0