Hector’s Story

Classes Offer Free Health and Wellness Coaching to People with Diabetes

TMF Foundation’s ¡Adelante! Program Helps Hundreds of Rio Grande Valley Residents

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Emilie Fennell
Director, Communications and External Relations

Austin, TX – December 18, 2013– People with diabetes face a constant challenge of managing the amount of sugar in their blood. For the approximately 2.2 million people in Texas living with diabetes, this means prioritizing diet and exercise and, often, relying on medication. Knowing how to manage the disease is key to avoiding its serious complications, such as vision loss, kidney failure and stroke.

To this end, the TMF Foundation, the charitable giving arm of TMF Health Quality Institute, has kicked off a program to teach people with diabetes how to monitor the condition and care for themselves. The new ¡Adelante! program provides self-management education to Texas communities with populations at high risk for diabetes, beginning this year with Brownsville and Alamo, Texas.

Through a partnership with Proyecto Juan Diego in Brownsville and Senior Community Outreach Services, Inc., in Alamo, the ¡Adelante! program offers a suite of health coaching and resources to people with diabetes in these communities. Class participants complete 6-12 weeks of education in a group setting led by a bilingual facilitator and receive dental care kits, diabetes-friendly cookbooks, devices to test their blood sugar and other resources at no cost.

The ¡Adelante! program is an extension of the Salud Por Vida/Health For Life initiative funded by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in 2010. Since it began, Salud Por Vida/Health for Life has helped bring diabetes self-management education to high-risk populations in targeted areas of Texas, including the Lower Rio Grande Valley, Laredo, San Antonio and El Paso.

Diabetes self-management education is a nationally standardized, evidence-based method of delivering education to help people with diabetes manage their condition and stay as healthy as possible. It focuses on seven behaviors: healthy eating, being active, monitoring the disease, taking medications, problem solving, reducing risks and healthy coping.

“In addition to delivering robust self-care education, the ¡Adelante! program allows us to understand and help meet the needs of people with diabetes in the Rio Grande Valley,” said Rachanna Rodriguez, director of programs for Senior Community Outreach Services, Inc.

One such individual is Hector Garza, an Alamo resident, who discovered through the ¡Adelante! program’s initial blood screen that he was at risk for diabetes complications such as problems with blood flow and oxygen circulation. His insurance plan did not cover the insulin pen he needed to keep his blood sugar levels in control.

Program staff, including local community health workers, called promotoras, helped Garza change his insurance plan. They also encouraged him to schedule an appointment with his doctor and helped him create a list of questions for the doctor, such as ‘What do my glucose numbers mean?’, ‘Can you change my prescription to one covered by insurance?’ and ‘What type of exercise is safe for me at this time?’

The program has given Garza knowledge and new resolve to maintain a healthy weight and blood sugar level. “I have learned how important it is to maintain and control my sugar levels,” Garza said. “I am very happy that I decided to participate in the ¡Adelante! program classes. It was the best decision I have made.”

Garza, who did obtain the insulin pen he needed, is one of many Rio Grande Valley residents who have improved their health through one-on-one assistance from the ¡Adelante! program’s promotoras.

Participants receive blood tests before and after the program to see how their blood sugar levels improve. At the time of each blood draw, participants have the opportunity to consult one-on-one with a promotora and ask any questions they may have.

"This is a tremendous opportunity for the people in our community to improve their quality of life as they live with diabetes," said Sister Phylis Peters, director of Proyecto Juan Diego. “The classes provide interactive instruction to help monitor the disease and valuable advice on collaborating with health care providers to achieve the best overall care."   

The goal of the ¡Adelante! program is to help improve outcomes for people with diabetes, but it also provides employment opportunities for the promotoras facilitating education and health care. Fourteen classes are currently running in the Rio Grande Valley area, employing 12 promotoras.

“We envision the ¡Adelante! program as a traveling road show delivering diabetes self-management education, life enrichment and employment opportunities throughout Texas,” said Traci L. Whitney, executive director of the TMF Foundation. “Our intention is not to stop with only the communities that we choose, but rather, for interested communities to request the program in their community through the TMF Foundation’s website.”

To date, more than 350 people are participating in the ¡Adelante! program in the Rio Grande Valley. The program will expand to additional Texas communities with a high incidence of diabetes in coming months. Visit the TMF Foundation website for more information: