Diabetes Patient Speaks Out About Taking Control of the Disease



DATE: November 3, 2011

Media Contact
Deborah Marshall

(845) 368-5570

                                          CHAMPIONS PROGRAM

             Diabetes Patient Speaks Out About Taking Control of the Disease

               Programs Utilizes Patients to Help Empower Other Patients

WARWICK – Mary Ellen Willen is not a medical professional but nevertheless, at 6:30 p.m. on Monday evening, November 21, she will demonstrate her expertise with “Taking Control,” a talk on how to live with diabetes. The free program and discussion, open to the public, will be held in the Greenbrier Room at Mount Alverno Center, 20 Grand Street, Warwick, NY.

Willen is a member of the sanofi-aventis A1C Champions Program, a patient led approach to diabetes education. A1C Champions know first hand the challenges
and obstacles to maintaining control of their diabetes. They share self-management and lifestyle strategies based on extensive training and their personal experience with diabetes.

During the discussion Willen will share her personal experience to benefit others with diabetes. “You are not alone on your journey with diabetes,” she stated. “I have walked in your shoes. I have diabetes and I understand the challenges you face”

Willen, the first presenter in the hospital’s Diabetes in Check program, will cover many topics including overcoming fears surrounding diabetes, achieving good glucose control, developing a balanced and healthy lifestyle, finding resources for diabetes support and prioritizing diabetes management.   

The A1C Champions Program, sponsored by sanofi-aventis, one of the world's leading pharmaceutical companies, is a patient-led approach to diabetes education. The company explains that patients who become A1C Champions know first-hand the challenges and obstacles to maintaining control of their diabetes. They share self-management and lifestyle strategies based on extensive training and their personal experience.

Willen was expecting her third child in 1989 when she learned that she had gestational diabetes.  “I didn’t feel too badly,” she said, “because I was told it would go away after my baby was born.” But it didn’t go away.  Like both her parents and countless other relatives before her, Willen had Type 2 diabetes. And she had picked up many misconceptions about the disease from those same relatives. However she soon learned that controlling diabetes is possible and relatively painless.

To help others take better control of their condition, Willen became an A1C Champion in September 2006. “It’s so wonderful to see the expression on someone’s face when they understand that they have been given the tools they can use to take control,” she said.

The Centers for Disease Control estimates that more than 20 million Americans have
Diabetes, six million of whom are unaware they have the disease. And the American Diabetes Association recommends that, in general, people with diabetes should initially strive for an A1C, a test that assesses blood glucose levels over a two- to three-month period.

Every year, Diabetes kills 180,000 Americans. The disease dramatically increases the risk of heart attack and is a leading cause of blindness, kidney failure and amputations. In its determination to serve all the healthcare needs of this community, St. Anthony Community Hospital opened a Center for Diabetes Education.

The Diabetes Center at St. Anthony Community Hospital offers a series of classes for those newly diagnosed with diabetes or those who have had it but have not achieved good control. During group or individual sessions, the clinical instructors offer initial assessment, emotional support and will seek to help patients achieve a better understanding of the disease. They will show their patients how to live a normal and productive life with diabetes and how to control the disease through diet and exercise.

Seating for the November 21 event, “Taking Control,” is limited and anyone planning to attend this important discussion should reserve a place by calling Lourdes Braadt at (845) 987-5168. Mount Alverno Center is about ¼ mile past St. Anthony Community Hospital and there is ample parking space.

Additional information about St. Anthony Community Hospital, Mount Alverno Center, and Schervier Pavilion is available on the Web at:

Bon Secours Charity Health System includes three New York hospitals: Bon Secours Community Hospital, Port Jervis; Good Samaritan Hospital, Suffern; and St. Anthony Community Hospital in Warwick. Bon Secours Charity Health System provides the region's only open heart surgical center at its Suffern campus and the services of a Certified Home Health Agency, two long-term care facilities, an assisted-living and adult-home facility, and several other community based medical programs. It serves over half a million people in seven counties and three states. Bon Secours Charity Health System is a member of the Bon Secours Health System, Inc., based in Marriottsville, Maryland which is a not-for-profit Catholic health system employing more than 20,000 caregivers in 7 states. For more information visit


Mary Ellen Willen will be offering her expertise on how to live with diabetes at Mt. Alverno Center on Monday evening, November 21, at 6:30 p.m.



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