Jefferson Regional Medical Center has taken basic diabetes education to another level with a new eight-week program aimed at helping participants manage the disease.

Jefferson Regional Medical Center has taken basic diabetes education to another level with a new eight-week program aimed at helping participants manage the disease.


LEAP — Learning, Evaluation, Activity, Prepared — has a hands-on approach with an emphasis on physical activity. LEAP works in collaboration with a pre-existing free outpatient diabetes class led by a certified diabetes educator.


With the addition of LEAP, participants have access to features that will enhance their education and help them better take charge of their health.


"When diabetes strikes, one can feel helpless," said JRMC health educator Lisa Duke. "We want people to see how much control they really have. That’s so empowering."


While the program starts with the basics of diet, nutrition and general lifestyle management, it doesn’t stop there. Participants have access to blood tests, health assessments, individualized attention and personal interaction with educators and trainers throughout the program.


According to Duke, one of the most unique features of LEAP is the emphasis on physical activity. She reports that 14 percent of people in Southeast Arkansas have been diagnosed with diabetes, and of that number, 41 percent don’t exercise.


"We recognized that physical activity was a real need in our population," Duke said."Cardiovascular activity and strength training are the most powerful combination of exercises in terms of controlling blood sugars."


Duke said the physical component of LEAP, held at JRMC Wellness Center, is specifically designed for diabetes patients. Also, each person is evaluated individually and given exercises appropriate for his or her level of fitness. Trainers at the center work closely with each patient.


Another key feature is that participants are trained to use the JRMC website-based patient portal where they can log their pre- and post-exercise blood sugar readings, allowing them to track progress. Weight and body fat also can be tracked. The information can serve as tangible evidence of the program’s benefits. Information can be entered from home or on laptops made available at the center.


"I like that I can log my results. It makes you realize what exercise can do," said Bill Ford, a recent graduate of the program.


The 86-year-old, diagnosed with Type II diabetes, said the program is more comprehensive than any other program he has tried.


"It’s a real quality program," Ford said."It gives you better focus."


After completing the program, Ford became a regular member of the wellness center, which is one of the anticipated outcomes of the program.


"We want this to be a base for a lifetime of physical activity," Duke said.


The cost of the LEAP program is $25. Enrollment is always open. Participants must have a physician referral.


For more information contact Lisa Duke at 870-541-7195