DHEC partners with Brookland-Lakeview Empowerment Center on Diabetes Intervention Program

April 13, 2022

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is partnering with the Brookland-Lakeview Empowerment Center (BLEC) to raise awareness about diabetes and inform the public on ways to prevent the serious, chronic disease.

The BLEC’s Diabetes Intervention Program (DIP) works with families on health education and lifestyle changes in hopes of showing how to prevent diabetes or to safely manage the disease to prevent its potential complications. DHEC and BLEC will speak more about the program and partnership Tuesday when the two entities ceremoniously sign a Memorandum of Agreement.

“We are thrilled about this collaboration with the Brookland-Lakeview Empowerment Center and believe it will prove to be invaluable for South Carolinians,” said Dr. Edward Simmer, DHEC Director.

“Diabetes has plagued our state for decades, and we ranked sixth nationally in 2019 among adults, with our minority populations experiencing a disproportionate impact. We announced last week that we are expanding our work and partnerships to eliminate these health disparities across our state and this effort will go a long way in accomplishing that goal.”

The Diabetes Intervention Program is funded through the Office of Minority Health (OMH) under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and is a free, six-month program for people with prediabetes or diabetes and their family members and/or support partners. One-hour sessions are held once a week for four months and then bi-weekly sessions for the remaining two months. Participants can attend booster sessions for about three months after the program ends to reinforce behaviors and promote maintenance of behavior changes.

The initiative is curriculum-based and will conduct outreach to underserved African American and Hispanic populations in Lexington and Richland counties who are at high risk for prediabetes and diabetes. However, all those who are interested can sign up.

Community Health Workers and diabetes subject matter experts will implement a family-based approach to address diabetes culture and the ways it negatively affects the body’s functions, among other topics. The goal is for participants to gain knowledge about diabetes, adopt and maintain self-management behaviors and improve their health. The program is being offered using virtual, in-person and hybrid models. Additional elements include a social media presence and a lifestyle change incentive program.

DHEC reported more than 1,600 South Carolinians died from diabetes in 2019, making it the seventh leading cause of death in the state. In addition, diabetes can lead to other disabling or even deadly conditions such as kidney failure and heart disease. The statewide data also shows that diabetes disproportionately affects minorities, with 20.1 percent of African American adults having diabetes compared to 12.2 percent of Caucasian adults.

“The funding through this grant has allowed the Brookland-Lakeview Empowerment Center and DHEC to expand efforts to address diabetes in our community,” said Cindye Richburg Cotton, Brookland-Lakeview Empowerment Center Executive Director. “DHEC brings its evaluation expertise to the table allowing them to monitor progress and engage with a community partner such as the BLEC to support program improvement, share lessons learned and disseminate key findings.”

Visit DHEC’s page on diabetes information to learn more about the disease’s impact on South Carolina. Visit BLEC’s program page for more information and to learn how to sign up.