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Diabetic? Join the group

French Hospital hosts free, monthly two-hour group consultations for anyone afflicted with Type II diabetes



- PLAY IT SAFE :  Sandra Miller (left) demonstrates how to monitor blood sugar, with assistance from Raquel Coronado. -  - PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
  • PLAY IT SAFE : Sandra Miller (left) demonstrates how to monitor blood sugar, with assistance from Raquel Coronado.
Time with a physician is precious no matter what the ailment but especially so for such a pernicious, widespread, chronic malady as Type II diabetes. Specialists in the disease can be inaccessible and expensive, though ongoing support and vigilant monitoring are key aspects for keeping the disease in check.  Inadequate or nonexistent insurance coverage certainly can compound problems for many people so afflicted.  Fortunately, French Hospital hosts free, ongoing, two-hour group consultations monthly with doctors and staff who are dedicated to managing the disease.

 The group meetings focus on techniques to regulate blood sugar through a balance of food, exercise, medication, and stress reduction. Type II diabetes results when the pancreas does not make sufficient insulin, a hormone essential for glucose processing. When insulin production is dysfunctional, blood sugar levels rise abnormally. 

Each two-hour session is structured but encourages dialogue among group members for mutual support.  During the first hour, certified diabetic educator Sandra Miller discusses diet and blood monitoring critical to stabilize blood sugar.  Physician Roger Steele lectures during the second hour, augmented by specialists in renal, pancreatic and other disorders linked to diabetes.

 “Diabetes can be overwhelming,” Miller explained, “but the group alleviates fears. Individuals learn techniques to monitor blood sugar levels and reduce the risks of such complications as kidney and heart disease.” Diabetics often may not notice symptoms and can become complacent as a result. But if daily maintenance is ignored, diabetes can lead to life-threatening consequences.  The group acts as a positive reinforcement, keeping people motivated and accountable for their self-care. 

After receiving her masters in Nutrition at Cal State Northridge, Miller focused on addressing diabetes because it is a complicated illness whose treatment can be instantaneously gratifying: It is among the few serious diseases that can be remedied with nearly immediate, noticeable results. For instance blood sugar levels can be stabilized within 15 minutes after an appropriate meal. “Nutrition is so important to diabetes,” Miller said, “and with the prevalence of diabetes in our culture, it is fulfilling to make a positive impact on someone’s life.”

Some diabetics have attended the gatherings for years. The support group has been meeting since 1978 throughout the county. French Hospital has hosted the meeting for the past two years. Steele has been with the group since the onset and witnessed patients’ knowledge markedly improve over the years. “The most frequent question,” Steele explained, “used to be: ‘How can I continue to eat what I want?’  Now people are better educated on diabetes and ask how to improve their diets and exercise routines.”

The group currently has about ten members and welcomes increased participation. Join them in the auditorium at French Hospital the third Wednesday of every month. The next meeting is February 17 from 3 to 5 pm.  See

Fast facts

United Blood Services and Doc Burnstein’s Ice Cream Lab will be hosting a Give a Pint, Get a Pint Blood Drive. Blood donors will receive a free pint of ice cream.  From 1 to 6 pm on February 22 Blood Mobiles will be parked outside the ice cream parlor at 114 Branch St. in Arroyo Grande. Call 543-4290 for more information

The Department of Animal Services is giving away $40 spay/neuter certificates starting on Spay Day, February 23. To find out more call the DAS at 781-4400

Hot-burning, low-ash almond firewood is available from Almond Brothers Firewood, which was founded and is run by the Davis brothers, who have been selling firewood since attending Cal Poly in 2002. Now alumni, they sell almond wood up and down the coast. Call 781-0954. 

Intern Alycia Kiley wrote Strokes&Plugs this week.  Send your business and nonprofit news to

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