Diabetes screenings find emergency cases

Free diabetes
screenings at local supermarkets recently identified some previously
undiagnosed diabetics whose blood-sugar levels were so high they required
emergency treatment.

Nurse Zelta
Gayle, who was instrumental in organising the Rotary Central screening event,
described those cases as “walking
time bombs”.

She said
about 10 people with critically high blood-sugar levels were referred
immediately to the hospital emergency room.

“They were
all undiagnosed and they were at a critical level,” Ms Gayle said. “They did
not know they were diabetic. We told them to go straight to the ER, leave their
shopping, just go.”

The
screenings at seven supermarkets throughout Cayman also revealed “many, many
more” who were also undiagnosed diabetics with high blood-sugar levels, she
said. They were also advised to seek medical assistance at the hospital, with
Dr. Kurdel Espinosa, who diagnosed several of them, or with their own general
practitioner as soon as possible.

Hundreds of
adults and children had their blood checked at the mass screenings organised by
Rotary Central on Saturday, 26 March. Among those tested was Health Minister
Mark Scotland.

Ms Gayle
advised everyone to have their blood-sugar levels checked twice a year. “You
might feel fine, but you could be diabetic and not know it,” she said.

She and other
medical professionals are going through the hundreds of forms filled out by
people who were tested to determine whether they are at risk of diabetes and
will contact those they believe are in need of further attention.

For years, Ms
Gayle has educated and brought awareness to people on Cayman Brac about
diabetes and, having moved to Grand Cayman more than a year ago, she is now
turning her attention to battling the growing
epdemic of diabetes on this Island.

She chairs
Rotary Central’s diabetes initiative. In 2000, she was one of the lead team
members who launched the Faith Hospital Diabetes Clinic. She wrote the clinic’s
guidelines and created and maintained an electronic database of Cayman Brac’s
diabetics. She was Nurse of The Year in 1994 and was awarded the Queen
Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal for her contribution to the Cayman Islands
society in 2002. She also was a diabetic clinic coordinator and educator until
she relocated to Grand Cayman.

Goals

Ms Gayle
explained that one of the goals of the diabetes screening event was to
sensitise the public to the prevalence of this disease in Cayman and the part
each person can play in minimising its occurrence.

Health
officials say 6 per cent of the population of the Cayman Islands has
diabetes. 

Ms Gayle and
diabetes specialists can be heard once a month on Talk Today on Radio Cayman
and listeners can call in with questions about diabetes.

She advised
anyone showing symptoms of diabetes to immediately pay a visit to a doctor.
Symptoms include a frequent need to urinate, unquenchable thirst, weight loss,
weakness and fatigue, tingling or numbness in hands, legs or feet, blurred
vision, dry or itchy skin, and cuts or bruises taking a long time to heal.

The Rotary
Central screenings were held at Kirk Supermarket, Cost U Less, Hurley’s
Supermarket, Foster’s Republix, Foster’s Strand, Foster’s Airport and Foster’s
Countryside. Plans are under way to hold similar screenings in East End at a
later date.

The club
plans to make the screenings an annual event.

The
screenings included blood-sugar checks, HbA1C (which gives a three-month range
of blood sugar), height, weight, body mass index (BMI), and on-site
consultations with general practitioners, paediatricians, nutritionists and
pharmacists.

The Ministry
of Health donated $1,000 to cover the costs of purchasing the HbA1C machines’
cartridges used during the community screening.

Those who were
tested were entered into a draw to win a personal blood sugar monitoring kit.

TOPScotlandbloodtestSTORY

Medical staff check Health Minister Mark Scotland’s blood sugar levels during a free screening at Foster’s Food Fair.
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