They plan to create more classes, expand their community walking program, work in the schools, and target isolated areas of the county for public awareness.
"People in Logan want a coalition too," WVU's Wright said. She and Nash have started meeting with a small Logan group to try to make that happen.
"We don't know exactly how we're going to do it yet, but we know we've got to pool our efforts if we want to get anywhere," said Shannon Meade, Family Resource Network coordinator.
"There's a lot of energy for this," Wright said. "People see the impact diabetes is having on their health and the health of people they love, and they're saying, 'You know what? We don't want to be this terrible statistic. We are good people, and we can reverse this if we work together."
At their first meeting in January, at the United Mine Workers headquarters, ideas flew around the table. Classes and a public awareness top the list. Billboards cost money, but maybe a billboard company would donate space.
Radio and TV and a Website might be doable. "Maybe Southern [Community and Technical College] could help," Wright said. Maybe the local cable TV station would run ads as a public service. "We could plaster the county with fliers that say 'Did you know you can prevent diabetes?' " somebody said.
They talked about walking groups that compete or challenges to see which group can lose the most weight. Maybe the newspaper would run stories about local people beating diabetes. Maybe they could get the schools and the nursing students at Southern involved.
Anise Nash said she would mentor local young people who want to become Logan County diabetes educators. "I'd want to find people who grew up here and plan to stay," she said.
"Once you start talking together, you realize there are lots of possibilities," Meade said.
Since January, more people have come to meetings, including representatives of the hospital, health department, Logan Chamber of Commerce, the Chapmanville town council, the Recreation Center. A local radio host has started doing interviews with Logan Countians about their struggle with diabetes.
They have started testing people's blood pressure and blood sugar free at public events. Soon, they will meet with Marshall's Richard Crespo, who helped the Mingo coalition get organized.
Crespo has helped more than 60 counties in nine Appalachian states organize diabetes coalitions. "We can help guide Logan through the organization process and tell them what other counties have done, but they've got do the community organizing themselves," he told the Gazette.
Coalitions offer a wide range of activities, he said. Besides the things the Logan coalition mentioned, they have built walking trails, offered free weight-loss groups or yoga, and summer camps for kids at risk. In a few states, local coalitions have joined forces into a statewide coalition.
The Logan group plans to apply for Logan Healthcare Foundation funding next fall, Meade said. Crespo's program has a $2.6 million grant from Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation to help launch coalitions in ten more counties. Mingo County got one of their first grants. Next fall, they will award $50,000 a year to five more counties. "Logan could certainly apply," he said.
Crespo's staff can also train local people to lead the evidence-based, four-week Diabetes Self-Management class. That training is free, since the state funds the group to offer it. After local people are trained, Crespo said, "they can offer the course to the public."
The class follows a prescribed curriculum, he said. People who take it learn how diabetes works in the body, how medication works, and what various foods do to the body. They plan specific ways to weave physical activity into the realities of their day and adjust what they eat. The course has been taught in churches, senior centers, volunteer fire departments, and community health centers.
"But everyone won't come to a class," Crespo said. "A coalition can attack diabetes from many directions."
"This is something that's needed to happen in Logan County for a long time," Meade said. "It's starting to feel like we've got a chance to make this into something."
"As soon as they get some classes going, I'll sign up," Missy Rein said.
Reach Kate Long at (304) 348-1798 or katel...@wvgazette.com.