Every hour, seven people across the country lose a foot or leg to diabetes – and Rapides Wound Healing Center is calling attention to that fact with a free diabetes event on Nov. 14.

Rapides Wound Healing Center, along with Alexandria Eye and Laser, will offer a special “Head to Toe” clinic for patients with diabetes from 8 a.m. to noon on Thursday, Nov. 14. The free event will include eye screenings, foot exams, blood pressure, hemoglobin A1c tests and nutrition education.

“Since November is American Diabetes Awareness Month, it is the perfect time to bring awareness to the disease – and educate those patients living with diabetes,” said Theresa Hood, RN, Director of Education at Rapides Regional Medical Center. “This free screening event gives us a chance to provide a few of those important health screenings that these patients may have otherwise postponed.”

According to the National Institutes of Health, nearly one in three people with diabetes ages 40 and older have at least one area in their feet that lacks feeling. Those at greater risk for nerve damage include diabetics who have difficulty controlling their blood sugar, high cholesterol, weight or blood pressure.

“About 60-70 percent of people with diabetes have mild to severe forms of nerve damage that can lead to an increased risk of amputation,” Hood said. “But diabetes is always a major risk factor for heart disease or stroke, and the leading cause of kidney failure as well as the leading cause of new cases of blindness among adults.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Diabetes Association recommend that people with diabetes receive a dilated eye screening, a neurosensory foot exam and a hemoglobin A1c test at least once a year.

“Nearly 26 million children and adults in the United State have diabetes,” Hood said. “Another 79 million have pre-diabetes and are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. By providing this free screening, we hope to reach those patients with diabetes here in Central Louisiana and help them avoid the complications that go hand-in-hand with this disease.”

The “Head to Toe” clinic will take place at the Rapides Wound Healing Center on Thursday, Nov. 14, from 8 a.m. to noon. Please call (318) 769-5341 to schedule an appointment. You must make an appointment to have a screening. Please call early – space is limited.

Rapides Regional Medical Center also offers a monthly Diabetes Group Classes. This free program is designed for adults with newly diagnosed diabetes and for people needing a refresher course in diabetes management. This is a basic diabetes program; therefore no physician referral is required. The program content follows the American Diabetes Association guidelines and uses a variety of teaching methods to enhance learning. Topics include meal planning, monitoring blood sugar, medications, complications, and learning to deal with a chronic disease. The course is taught by Sandy Couvillon, Registered Dietitian, and Amie Starks, Registered Nurse. The program is free, but space is limited. Reservations are required and may be made by calling (318) 769-3106.