So how do West Virginians find help?
The Boone County Health Department offers a once-a-month diabetes support group, led by a nurse. It is, by all accounts, the only publicly available education service in Boone County.
To get a self-management education class, Carolyn or Judy must drive to Charleston or Huntington. All Charleston hospitals offer multi-session classes, open to the public.
"I don't drive," Carolyn said. She can't get on the Internet. "I don't have a computer."
Community health centers Hygeia and FamilyCare do not offer diabetes education classes in Boone. FamilyCare's free classes are in Charleston or Teays Valley.
The Gazette-Mail decided to pull together a statewide list of services.
Agencies agreed to help. The West Virginia Hospital Association assembled a list of their members' education programs. The West Virginia Primary Care Association polled the state's 28 community health centers. The American Association of Diabetes Educators has a list of West Virginia members. The state Board of Medicine keeps a list of endocrinologists, diabetes specialists.
Different sources helped with diabetes support groups, free clinics and other lists. It took about two weeks for one person to compile this much. While the lists are incomplete, they are more comprehensive than anything else available.
A few things jump out:
"We don't get paid to offer that, and we're stretched thin already," one public health nurse said. They all envy Kentucky. In Kentucky, the state pays every county health department to offer at least one diabetes self-management class per year.
The Kentucky legislature supplied $3.4 million for diabetes services last year (77 cents a year per Kentuckian), compared with West Virginia's $108,000 (6 cents per West Virginian). "That makes a big difference in what a state program can do," Wood said.
The lists that accompany this article will stay on the Charleston Gazette website, wvgazette.com, and www.livewellwv.com, managed by West Virginia University Extension Service. Anyone is free to use them. We hope some agency will adopt and update them.
Reach Kate Long at 304-348-1798 or katel...@wvgazette.com.
"The Shape We're In" was written with the help of the Dennis A. Hunt Fund for Health Journalism, administered by the California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowships at the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.