May 02, 2013

UAB, Cities for Life launch diabetes website
Birmingham residents can use the free site to locate programs and services on healthy eating, physical activity, healthy families, support, education and healthcare.

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UAB and Cities for Life have launched mydiabetesconnect.com, a free, customized resource website to help promote healthy lifestyles, reduce the risk of diabetes and encourage diabetes management in Birmingham.

The website was developed after a grassroots program to collect a database of resources that can leverage the collective strength of Birmingham’s medical neighborhood, including health-care and educational opportunities through UAB, family medicine practices and many community resources to support a healthy lifestyle. The website will be a leading health and wellness database for the Jefferson County area. UAB physicians and caregivers are encouraged to share the site with their patients as a resource for finding diabetes-enhancing programs in the patients’ local communities.

Birmingham residents can use the site to locate programs and services on healthy eating, physical activity, healthy families, support and education, and healthcare. They can also find opportunities to participate in research studies.

Mydiabetesconnect.com is designed to link individuals affected by diabetes to low-cost and free resources in the Jefferson County area,” says April Agne, program manager of the Division of Preventive Medicine. “The idea behind it is to promote healthy living and improved diabetes management by locating existing resources and putting them at the fingertips of patient navigators and the Birmingham community. Visitors to the website can find many resources, such as a local diabetes support group, a neighborhood church offering Zumba classes or even a cooking demonstration class at a library. Anyone can access local resources or events.”

Cities for Life is led by the American Academy of Family Physicians Foundation with support from Sanofi US. Birmingham was selected as the pilot for the program in 2012 from among more than 50 nationwide contenders because Alabama has one of the nation’s highest rates of diabetes and the city has a demonstrated commitment to improving the lives of its citizens. The mydiabetesconnect.com website is the program’s most recent offering to help people living with or at risk for diabetes in our community.

“This is a resource for everyone, not just diagnosed patients,” explains Andrea Cherrington, M.D., associate professor in Preventive Medicine at UAB. “There are people out there who don’t know they are pre-diabetic, and family members need resources to better understand the disease as well. We can provide constructive and productive support through this project and website.”

If you know of a provider that should be added to the mydiabetesconnect.com resource list, encourage them to submit their information online.

UAB’s Department of Family and Community Medicine, Diabetes Research and Training Center and UAB HealthSmart are working with the city of Birmingham, YMCA of Greater Birmingham and the American Academy of Family Physicians Foundation for this unique clinic-community project. Cities for Life is built on working with community groups to create an environment that encourages healthy lifestyles and disease management.

“Cities for Life has provided a much needed opportunity for some of our local family medicine and internal medicine physicians to link their patients with — or at risk for — Type 2 diabetes with resources in the Birmingham area via patient navigators,” says Tamela Turner, Ph.D., associate professor of Family & Community Medicine. “Our physicians and the Birmingham community have a strong commitment to improving the lives of our residents, and Cities for Life has supported us in that commitment.”

Collaboration awards

The American Academy of Family Physicians Foundation recently announced that 24 local organizations have been selected as recipients of eight Cities for Life Collaboration Awards. The awards were created to expand resources for people living with diabetes in Birmingham.

Members of the Cities for Life Community Action Team were eligible to apply for the awards. The Community Action Team, comprised of more than 80 local organizations, is led by a steering committee the coordinates the day-to-day and collaborative work of Cities for Life.

Among the UAB groups selected for Collaboration Awards were:

  • Jefferson County Library Cooperative, Inc., Health InfoNet of Alabama-UAB Lister Hill Library and Birmingham Public Library System: These groups will provide materials on diabetes for the community and house informative displays in each library; host an estimated 35 programs at area libraries on diabetes education involving experts from local universities and health organizations; purchase approximately 100 additional diabetes education titles that will circulate between the 40 public libraries; and distribute diabetes education materials via library staff to other community venues (e.g., senior centers).
  • Equal Access Birmingham’s Diabetes Education Initiative, Pathways of Birmingham and UAB Diabetes Research and Training Center: After understanding the barriers to healthy nutrition in transitional populations, these partners will develop and compile nutritional resources and implement an educational intervention focused on the dietary content of meals in Pathways’ population. 
  • Birmingham-Jefferson County Transit Authority and UAB School of Medicine, Department of Family and Community Medicine: These groups will host interactive seminars for the Transit Authority’s 270 employees and patrons about type 2 diabetes and making healthy eating choices and engaging in physical activity. The partners will also distribute educational information and encourage the formation of peer support groups and walking groups.
    These enhanced programs and services can be found by visiting mydiabetesconnect.com.
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