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  • Writer's pictureJulie Miskoviak

Diabetes education through community outreach

Updated: Nov 16, 2023

Ascension Wisconsin’s Community Services team was prompted to come up with an innovative strategy to reach patients struggling with a high A1C.

Ascension Wisconsin quality patient data showed that Black patients often times struggled with a higher A1c, a measurement of how much sugar is in the bloodstream. Although the patients were active in the hospital or clinic setting, the formal education there was not reaching them to its full potential. The Under 8 Program was developed and implemented to change and address the issue.

“Under 8 is similar to formal diabetes education, but we really make it a more casual environment and give participants the chance to interact with each other and learn in a non-stressful setting,” said Nancy Leahy, Nurse Practitioner for Ascension Community Services.

The 10 to 12 week program — which takes place in the community setting — consists of education around topics such as lifestyle changes, nutrition, long-term impacts of diabetes and nutrition label reading. Participants also get weekly vital readings and get their A1C checked at the beginning and end of the program.

Under 8 is free of charge and although it was developed to address the risk of high A1C levels in the Black Population, it is available to any individual regardless of their background. Since last fall, 43 individuals have completed the program. Most significantly, the program has an overwhelmingly positive response from the attendees. Since its inception two years ago, most participants have seen an improvement in their A1C or have avoided the number getting higher.

“We try to meet everyone in a friendly, support-group environment,” Nancy said. “Patients have been able to share their stories and help each other with what they are going through. Under 8 creates an incredible sense of camaraderie and is so much more than just a diabetes education class.”

Under 8 is made possible through the support of generous local donors to Ascension Wisconsin Foundation. With your support, individuals in the Greater Milwaukee area will continue to have access to this crucial program.


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