Above and Beyond
The first wealth is health. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
Type 2 diabetes has become an epidemic in today's society. Its main causes are obesity and lack of exercise. Celia Witt Beauchamp, a clinical dietician at Coastal Carolina Hospital in Hardeeville, has made it her mission to help the many people afflicted with this overwhelming diagnosis.
Though Celia finds it rewarding in itself to help people in the community, she was recently granted the prestigious Tenet Heroes Hall of Fame Award. Of the close to 60,000 employees at Tenet Healthcare Corporation across the country, and 100 nominations, Celia was one of seven employees to be inducted this year. This is the company's highest honor. "A dietician is not usually recognized because we are considered support staff. I was very surprised and honored," Celia commented. With the growing rate of diabetes in our country and the important role nutrition plays in its treatment, it is no wonder dieticians have an important function in the care of the disease. Coastal Carolina Hospital was also inducted into the Circle of Excellence as one of Tenets top five hospitals. "We were able to celebrate two titles. It's been exciting."
Celia's award was for her work in the Jasper County community through the hospital. Three years ago she realized that patients knew very little about their diabetes so she helped start the Diabetes University program in 2008. "It was a collaborative effort among many local associations. Jasper County is a rural, under-served community that doesn't have a lot of resources and the program is free. People want to do what is right for their health, but they need the tools and knowledge and we can help provide that." Celia commented. She has also started the Diabetes Education Program at the hospital. I was able to sit in on one of Celia's nutrition classes and it was extremely informative. One of the women attending the class said that it helped her to better understand the importance of how to track carbohydrates and balance them with the other essential nutrient groups. Celia has a way of communicating with her patients and their families on a personal level. She doesn't talk down to anyone and states things clearly and with common sense. The topic of nutrition, especially as it relates to diabetes, can be very confusing and often creates stress for the patient. The amazing thing is that it's free to anyone in the community with diabetes. Celia is also working on a Diabetes Work Group at the hospital, and has been asked to do three health segments for the Hardeeville public television station. "I get energized when I speak about nutrition and I thrive on interacting with people." Jasper County has an extremely high diabetes rate of 13.4 percent, as compared to South Carolina's 10.6 percent, and the nationwide rate of 8.3 percent. She feels a true passion to help the community.
Nutrition is a complex subject that is different for every person. One size does not fit all. Dieticians play a crucial role in helping people learn how to control their diseases from hypertension to diabetes. The Lowcountry is lucky to have such a compassionate dietician to help us wade through the multifaceted world of nutrition.
Nutrition tips - not just for diabetics:
. Eat a variety of foods to maximize vitamins and minerals.
. Eat whole grains and whole foods such as fruits and vegetables.
. Buy locally grown produce-its more nutritious because it's fresher.
. Avoid processed foods with added sugar and salt.
. Eat a variety of proteins including non-meats, i.e., quinoa, nuts and nut butters, dairy products, dried beans and peas.
. Drink lots of plain water daily.
. Work with a dietician to develop a healthy plan.
Log onto www.choosemyplate.gov/SuperTracker to track your daily nutrition and exercise. It's free!
Finds inspiration from: "My patients motivate me because most of them try very hard to do the right thing."
Biggest influence: "My mom. She always encouraged me, led a healthy life ,and served healthy food from her garden."
Family: "My parents have lived on Hilton Head for 25 years and my husband (of 16 years), Chad and I have lived in Bluffton almost seven years."
Interesting fact: Celia is a Huguenot and First Family of South Carolina descendant of JÈrÈmie Cothonneau. The family came to South Carolina between 1670 and 1700.
People would be surprised to know: "On Sundays the world stops and I become rabid for NASCAR. My car is #88, Dale Earnhardt Jr."