The Absentee Shawnee Tribe (AST) Diabetes and Wellness Program is an integral component to the clinical care services and community support offered to the American Indian/Alaskan Native (AI/AN) population served by the Absentee Shawnee Tribal Health System (ASTHS) in Central Oklahoma. The mission of the AST Diabetes and Wellness program is to improve clinical health outcomes in the lives of over 13,000 AI/AN patients who receive healthcare through the ASTHS and to expand clinical-community linkages for diabetes prevention and treatment services in AI/AN communities. The program focuses on comprehensive case management services, collaborative community partnerships and culturally tailored education and outreach activities, designed to elevate the health acumen of the entire community. The program’s objectives include chronic disease prevention and management, as a whole; with specific goals of improved glycemic control, reduced risk for complications of chronic disease and improved access to care for AI/AN community members.
The AST Diabetes and Wellness Program is located primarily at the Little Axe Health Center in Norman, Oklahoma but extends services to the Shawnee Clinic in Shawnee, Oklahoma on a weekly basis. Both clinics have employee gyms and a third community gym is housed at the Resource Center in Norman, Ok. The program consists of a director, two dietitians, two physical activity specialists, a community health educator, and an office manager. Through a shared electronic medical record system, the program averages 12-15 referrals per day from providers seeking to connect patients to medical nutrition therapy services, diabetes self-management training, continuous glucose monitoring services, case management services, a CDC recognized diabetes prevention program and/or physical activity prescriptions.
For over 23 years, the AST Diabetes and Wellness program has been infusing culturally sensitive wellness initiatives throughout the rural Central Oklahoma AI/AN community served. The heart and soul of the program is both clinical and community in nature. The program offers community outreach fitness events, such as free 5K fun runs, youth sport clinics, and cooking demonstrations. The program partners with Oklahoma Tribal Engagement Partners to bring the CDC Eagle Adventure book series to life within local public elementary schools reporting 76%-94% low income family rates. The Diabetes and Wellness Program is also strategically aligned with the Absentee Shawnee Tribe Agriculture Department, working collaboratively in the areas of food sovereignty and sustainability initiatives. The program also supports the attendance of two AI/AN youth to attend the weeklong, overnight summer camp offered by the Oklahoma coalition of Native Youth Preventing Diabetes (NYPD).
Additionally, the Diabetes and Wellness program provides physical activity opportunities to clinic and tribal staff, and one-on-one personal training services to employees and community members. Group exercise classes are also available for employees and community members as pandemic emergency posturing permits.