People’s Health Clinic aims to hit diabetes where it hurts

Diabetes isn’t cheap.

People’s Health Clinic Development Director Aimee Armer knows from personal experience, estimating that her own expenses to treat diabetes ran $150 to $200 monthly.

“You have to test your blood sugar, you have to take insulin or pills to control your blood sugar levels, you have to see your doctor regularly … every three months is what they recommend,” Armer said. “It’s expensive.”

Armer said she is covered by medical insurance, but the costs to someone who is uninsured are much higher.

Putting aside its debilitating and potentially life-threatening physical effects, treating diabetes can crush a low-income family’s finances and make life exponentially harder.

Type 2 diabetes is preventable, so the People’s Health Clinic, along with the American Diabetes Association, the health departments of Summit and Wasatch counties and other organizations are sponsoring a free health fair Nov. 14,from 4-7 p.m., at 650 Round Valley Drive. The fair is being hosted in accordance with Diabetes Awareness Month.

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Beth Armstrong, executive director of the People’s Health Clinic, said the fair will be free and open for both insured and uninsured people.

“This is nothing that any of us should be taking for granted,” she said.

Uninsured and low-income people are among those most vulnerable to Type 2 diabetes, Armstrong said. The clinic serves uninsured patients, and that group includes parts of Park City’s Latino community, which makes up roughly a quarter of the residential population and a large part of the people the clinic serves.

According to the Utah Department of Health, one in 17 Utahns have been diagnosed with diabetes.

Armer said there are multiple factors contributing to a higher risk of diabetes in low-income families, like unhealthy diets and a lack of education on how to avoid the risk.

“People don’t understand what it means to eat healthy, what are healthy alternatives, how you can incorporate exercise into your day, whether that means taking the stairs instead of the elevator or parking farther away at the mall,” Armer said.

Armstrong said the clinic plans on staffing the health fair with Spanish interpreters, for attendees whose first language isn’t English. She said there will also be opportunity drawings and prizes to encourage attendees to visit each station.

Provided at the fair will be diabetes risk tests, glucose tests, a station staffed by EATS Park City, BMI tests and more.

There will also be the opportunity to sign up for the Summit County Health Department’s yearlong diabetes prevention program, which begins on Jan. 9.

Attendees will also be able to sign up for insurance via the Affordable Healthcare Act at the event. The ACA’s open enrollment period ends on Dec. 15.

Armstrong, who is helping lead a ballot initiative proposing Medicaid expansion in Utah, stressed the importance of the ACA station.

“If you can have insurance, then you should have insurance,” Armstrong said. “We don’t take care of any emergency care, so if you break your arm and you go to the hospital that could be costly.”

Armer said treating diabetes is a matter of recognizing it and stopping it early.

“The sooner you are diagnosed of being at risk or having pre-diabetes or diabetes, the faster you will be able to reverse that so you don’t get complications,” Armer said. “… If it goes unchecked or taken care of, (there are) complications like blindness, amputation.”

Armstrong said that although Type 2 diabetes is preventable, it’s spreading.

“It’s an epidemic,” she said.

The Diabetes Awareness Health Fair is scheduled to be held at the People’s Health Clinic/Summit County Health Department building at 650 Round Valley Drive on Nov. 14, from 4-7 p.m. Spanish interpreters will be available at every station at the fair and people from both Summit and Wasatch counties are invited to attend.

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