Last updated: November 04. 2013 5:10PM - 4446 Views
Rachel Baldwin rbaldwin@civitasmedia.com

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S. WILLIAMSON, Ky. - The S. Williamson Appalachian Regional Hospital (ARH) played host to members of the Tug Valley Chamber of Commerce (TVCC) Monday afternoon, taking the opportunity to share important health tips with those attending, as well as educating them about the upcoming merger of the hospital with the Williamson Memorial Hospital (WMH), barring any problems with the planned purchase.

Tim Hatfield, Community CEO for the local ARH facility welcomes everyone and then introduced Dr. Angel Justice, a Family Medicine Specialist, who treats patients who have been diagnosed with diabetes or who are considered to be in a high risk category to acquire the disease.

According to Dr. Justice, 25.8 million people in the U.S. have diabetes, which breaks down to approximately 13 million men and 12.6 million women. Out of those numbers, 18.8 million have been diagnosed while 7 million remains undiagnosed. There are also 79 million people with pre-diabetes that equals 35 percent of U.S. adults that are age 20 and over.

Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, non-traumatic lower limb amputations and new cases of blindness and eye disease. It is the 7th leading cause of death in the U.S., a major cause of heart attack and stroke. The risk of death among people with diabetes is about twice that of people of a similar age without diabetes.

The average medical expenses for those with diabetes are 2.3 times higher than those without diabetes, with the total cost estimate of care in the U.S. in 2012 being a staggering $176 billion for direct medical costs and $69 billion in reduced productivity. This amount is a great increase from the $174 in costs in 2007.

Type I Diabetes develops when the body’s immune system destroys pancreatic beta cells and usually strikes children or young adults, and there is no way of preventing the onset and requires insulin. Type II Diabetes is a disorder in which the cells do not use insulin properly and as the need for insulin arises, the pancreas loses the ability to produce insulin. There is also other short-term forms of diabetes that typically go away such as gestational diabetes, genetic conditions, surgery, medications, infections and pancreatic disease, to name a few.

Risk factors for the disease include being diagnosed with pre-diabetes, being age 45 and above, having a family history of diabetes, being overweight, not exercising regularly, having low HDL (good cholesterol), having high triglycerides, being of certain racial/ethnic groups and having gestational diabetes. Symptoms include frequent thirst and urination, being hungry even though you are eating, extreme fatigue, blurry vision, cuts/bruises that are slow to heal, weight loss and tingling, pain or numbness in your hands and feet.

Treatment for diabetes includes monitoring your blood glucose levels daily, dieting, exercise, maintaining a recommended weight, choosing healthy foods and being prescribed medications. The target levels for blood glucose levels of most non-pregnant diabetics is having an A1C of 7 or below, a before eating blood glucose of 70-130, and less than 180 1-2 hours after the meal. Smart food choices include non-starchy vegetables, fruits, whole grains, dried beans, fish, lean meats. non-fat dairy products and unsweetened drinks.

Hatfield then spoke to the group about the merger of ARH and WMH and of the benefits the Tug Valley would reap from having a healthcare facility that could branch out into specialty fields that are not currently offered to the public, rather than having two facilities duplicating services and competing for too few patients.

The process of completing the purchase is currently in the first stages and ARH recently filed the Certificate of Need (CON) wich has to be approved before the sell can go through. Hatfield spoke of plans to create a Behavioral Care Facility after renovations are completed and remarked that ARH plans to employ the majority of the employees of WMH, and that the company that will be managing the Behavioral Care Center will also have to hire, creating job opportunities.

“We want what is best for our area, and we feel this merger will allow us to provide a higher level of care than what is now available,” said Hatfield.

If you would like additional information about the merger of the two facilities, you are encouraged to visit the website www.CareforTugValley.com.

Charlie McCoy, the President of the TVCC, voiced his appreciation to ARH for sponsoring the meeting and for their continued commitment to the local community.

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