Help plentiful - and maybe life saving - through Marillac support groups

Marillac Clinic does group consultations for people with similar issues, like diabetes and those trying to lose weight.

At one time, it was common for Rogelio Lariz to eat 15–18 tacos in one sitting.

But after being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, Lariz, with the help of his wife, Sophia, has limited his intake to three tacos. Lariz also quit smoking, drinking soda and eating hamburgers. He is more inclined to exercise.

In addition to losing a lot of weight, Lariz was able to reverse some of the symptoms caused by Type 2 diabetes, and he no longer uses insulin to regulate his blood sugar.

This was all inspiring, firsthand testimony that Lariz shared with a group of 11 other diabetics on a recent Tuesday at Marillac Clinic in Grand Junction.

“The main thing is I educated my stomach, and this has helped me,” Lariz explained through an interpreter at the gathering.

Marillac Clinic, which services underinsured and uninsured clients, offers once-a-month support groups for diabetics and patients dealing with chronic pain. The group dynamic helps people exchange ideas and advice in a relaxed setting, said Melinda Magathan, a mental health therapist who leads the diabetes groups.

“Our doctors can tell us to do something, but if we have a friend asking about our progress, it helps us stay motivated to reach our goals,” she said.

The support groups have a range of benefits for both patients and the clinic. Patients are more likely to heed instruction on living a healthier lifestyle if they see other people are succeeding. Patients also can see a Marillac Clinic physician to have their blood tested, receive prescriptions and medical supplies.

The group meetings can save medical professionals time, thereby reducing health care costs. The cost to attend a support group is based on a sliding scale and can be less expensive to clients than regular co-pay fees to see a doctor, Magathan said.

“Some of these people have been coming for five or six years,” she said. “They really connect with different people in the group.”

The group meetings are going so well, the concept will be replicated at Marillac Clinic’s Palisade location.

Bill Shepard, who is in a Lariz’s group, said he has taken away plenty of education that he’s put to use about limiting portion size.

He plans to lose 24 pounds in 12 weeks, and showing up for the meetings will keep him accountable. Shepard said he was motivated to lose weight after seeing Lariz’s progress.

“I’m at a point in my life now, if I don’t make changes now I’m not going to be able to,” he said.


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