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This month, we feature Frida Theros, RD, CD, CDE, who works with the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah in Cedar City, Utah.
Is the Indian Health Service a public health service sponsored by the government? If so, how much has been budgeted for it in past years, this year and in future years?
Yes. The Indian Health Services (IHS) is sponsored by the government. It includes a mandated government appropriation for diabetes. The grants for diabetes vary from year to year and are based on the user population.
What services does the Indian Health Service provide to Native Americans with diabetes?
Services vary from tribe to tribe and depend on how each tribe decides to spend their budget. They basically go by “primary,” “secondary” or “tertiary” levels of care. The decisions are made with varying levels of freedom. For example, we are a 638 tribe, which means we decide what services we do or don’t offer, while complying with regulations, and on how we spend our budget.
What particular tribes do you work with?
The Paiute Tribe of Utah and any Native American who meets the health service’s rules of eligibility.
In addition to your home state of Utah, what other states receive services from the Indian Health Service?
Basically all of them in the Continental United States and in Alaska.
Are services provided only to Native Americans on reservations, or are Native Americans living in cities, towns and rural areas eligible for services as well?
All of the above, as long as they meet the eligibility criteria.
What is the current status of diabetes in the Native American population, and what changes have you seen in the last few years as the type 2 epidemic has grown throughout the United States?
Type 2 diabetes is on the rise among the Native American population, as it is among the general population. We are seeing type 2 at a much younger age now, and the age is getting younger and younger. We had type 2 diabetes diagnosed in a 6-year-old here last year.
How is the Indian Health Service helping prevent Native American children from developing type 2?
Through diabetes grants, a health promotion and disease prevention campaign and a lot of public health education.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
Seeing clients who seek out my help in managing their diabetes and watching them make progress. They are a very private people, but they have opened their homes and their hearts to me and my services. That is a great joy.
What does it take to be a good diabetes educator?
Listen, listen and listen, with respect and empathy. Personalize the rules of diabetes management. In other words, make the rules work for the person, not the person for the rules.
Diabetes Health is the essential resource for people living with diabetes- both newly diagnosed and experienced as well as the professionals who care for them. We provide balanced expert news and information on living healthfully with diabetes. Each issue includes cutting-edge editorial coverage of new products, research, treatment options, and meaningful lifestyle issues.