Health Check: Three mayors promote diabetes screening

Central Falls Mayor James Diossa and Providence Mayor Angel Taveras share a laugh at a diabetes screening at Providence City Hall, Wednesday, April 2, 2014.

The mayors of three Rhode Island cities were screened for diabetes Wednesday at a Providence City Hall event.

Providence Mayor Angel Tavares, Central Falls Mayor James Diossa and Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebien said they're leading by example.

"So it's trying to take what should be an important role for a mayor -- awareness -- and taking advantage of that position and the title we hold to really bring awareness to it," Grebien said.

"We know that Latinos and African-American adults are at far greater risk for developing diabetes," Taveras said.

"So those are the communities that traditionally have been plagued with being overweight and obese, mostly because of poor access to healthy foods. And as a result they're at higher risk of getting diabetes and being at risk for diabetes," Dr. Hari Bhat of Lifespan.

Now the three mayors are spreading the word: Do as I do and be screened.

"We have a population of African-Americans and Hispanics, Latinos who are affected by this disease and that's my job to make sure they understand there's screening out there," Diossa said.

The screenings are free and available in these three communities in the coming weeks. It's a screening that could prove to be a lifesaver considering diabetes is often referred to as a silent killer.

"Complications can range from blindness to kidney dialysis to foot amputations to heart disease. They can be pretty devastating and quite costly," Bhat said.

Major sponsors of the initiative include Lifespan, Walgreens, and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Rhode Island.

There will be a total of six screening sites between the three cities. The first one is April 14 at Dorcas International on Elmwood Avenue in Providence. The goal is to screen 500 people.