Type 1 Diabetes Gains Support with Help from OHSU Nursing Students

By Christi Richardson


According to the Centers for Disease Control, each year more than 13,000 young people are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. The national incidence of type 1 diabetes among those aged 10-19 years is 19 per 100,000. Managing diabetes is challenging and that’s why Aletta Mannix and Rose Keppinger, BS with a major in nursing students on the Klamath Falls campus, decided to take action. Because of their experience in the nursing program they had an interest in starting a support group. After attending an annual Sky Lakes Diabetes Services Advisory Board meeting they were prompted to start a support group by Dr. Eccles, a Sky Lakes physician.

Keppinger explains, “I know what it’s like being diagnosed with type 1 at eleven years old. I want people to look at the disease as a partner in life, not a crutch. It’s Aletta and Rosemanageable. Besides, it’s time. Klamath Falls hasn’t had a diabetes support group for several years.”

More people are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at a young age and because of this, the support group is focused on helping children and adolescents with the disease, and their families, to make the difficult transition into a new lifestyle.

Forming the first diabetes support group meeting Mannix and Keppinger helped out at the Superhero 5k which helped to raise funds for Tayler’s Stand, a non-profit group, led by Jennifer Stevens that hopes to raise funds for a diabetic alert dog for her nine- year-old daughter. Alert dogs cost around 15k, but can work for 12-15 years. Regular alert systems must be replaced after about four years. Mannix and Keppinger had a booth at the finish line providing information about the support group. Stevens, a supporter of the group, says that she hopes having a support group will “gain more awareness for diabetes in Klamath County because the disease is silent and not talked about here. It will help make the community more aware.”

“It’s totally possible to live a normal active kid life. We want people to know they are not alone and that even though it isn’t easy, there are ways to manage this disease,” said Mannix.

Jennifer Lehman, Diabetes Services Program Coordinator at Sky Lakes Medical Center said, “I’m thrilled to help get this support group up and running. It’s a much needed resource that the community has been lacking.” Lehman will help Mannix and Keppinger with materials, coordinating speakers or lectures, and will be a resource for the two as things come up.

The group held its first meeting immediately following the event. During the discussion a father and child asked about managing fluctuating blood sugars while participating in sports. Mannix says, “We used what we learned from this meeting to create a focus for the next meeting: diabetes and sports.This is a learning process of what the community’s biggest needs and concerns are.”

Contact Aletta or Rose for more information about the support group: klamathfallst1d@gmail.com.

For more information on Tayler’s Stand email: run@taylersstand.org.

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