Learn how the Summit County Health Department\’s Diabetes Prevention and Management programs are adapting to life during the pandemic to continue to provide digital services to residents.

 “I have diabetes on both sides of my family. My Grandfather had it, my mother now has it. I got a tingling sensation in my right foot and I decided I wasn’t going to follow that trend.”

Dirk is a 50-something-year-old man who recently completed the Summit County Health Department’s Online Diabetes Prevention Program. It’s one of two accredited programs geared towards those who either have diabetes or prediabetes. Each class gives participants the flexibility to participate from any location, is led by trained lifestyle coaches and is supported by other participants.

“For me, the benefit of teaching online is that I can offer the programs to participants no matter where they live. I can reach rural areas as well as those who are not available to attend classes during the workday. Especially now while we are staying home for safety reasons, these programs can continue and people still have education available to them,” says SaRene Brooks, a Summit County Health Educator. Brooks is also a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist. She has found the transition to all online learning very rewarding. The participants enjoy virtual face-to-face interaction while still receiving valuable information from trained experts.


Brooks designs her classes to help participants make lifestyle changes to prevent Type 2 diabetes. Participants will learn about healthy eating, physical activity, healthy weight maintenance, stress reduction and coping skills and how they impact the risk of getting this disease. There are usually no symptoms associated with prediabetes; most people don’t know they have it unless they have a blood test.

A self-management program is also available for those who already have Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.

“If you already have diabetes, you can meet with a Diabetes specialist. She will provide information to help you learn self-management skills. You can do this with a face-to-face meeting online using your smartphone or computer. It is a great opportunity to access the help of an expert without leaving your home,” says Brooks. This education is individualized specifically for the person with diabetes. It is held one-on-one between the educator and the participant. It is also the only DSME accredited program in Summit County.

Brooks is able to teach participants of both programs strategies for maintaining a healthy lifestyle during a time of uncertainty. “Periods like this can bring stress and anxiety which often leads to disrupted sleep patterns, changes in activity level and mindless eating”, states Brooks. These programs can bring focus and support to participants which lead to positive outcomes.

For Dirk, the decision to enroll in the Diabetes Prevention course was life-changing. He lost 14 pounds, which was 7% of his body weight, and significantly lowered his A1c. This reduced his risk of getting Type 2 diabetes. He still talks about the lifestyle skills he learned by being part of this program.

“There are two things that need to be discussed. The activity factor is one of them and the other is the intake of food or how you intake the food. You kind of have to decide, am I going to continue my life the way I have been living it or am I going to try to do something to change it? “

To learn more about Diabetes Prevention and Diabetes Self-Management or how you can sign up for an online class, please email SaRene Brooks at sbrooks@summitcounty.org or call 435-333-1509.