Kingsbury Tower Wesidents Fight Illness with Knowledge
TRENTON – Diabetes, heart disease and a lack of information about how to treat these illnesses are big issues at Kingsbury Towers, where nearly 30 residents have died in the last six months.
“I started noticing that people were dying, and I went around and found out that other people had the same idea I had,” resident Eugene Scott said. “Why are so many people sick?”
Curious, Scott knocked on doors and asked people about their health. At one gathering of roughly 40 residents, Scott said he was the only one who did not have diabetes.
Scott’s curiosity eventually led the residents of Kingsbury Towers to form the Kingsbury Health Team, and now it has led to an alliance with the Trenton Health Team, a collaboration of local health providers, the city and other social and charitable organizations intended to improve the health of residents and reduce their reliance on hospital emergency rooms.
The partnership among residents, health-care professionals and faith leaders is designed to help the high number of patients with chronic diseases at the apartment complex on South Broad Street.
The Trenton Health Team announced the partnership yesterday as part of its effort to identify and treat patterns of illness across the city.
Zoraida Carmona is one of the dozens of residents of the Kingsbury apartment complex living with diabetes.
She was among those who spoke about their illnesses yesterday.
“I had a swollen foot – this was in ’07 – I wasn’t paying any attention to it. I just ignored it and thought it was going to go away,” Carmona said. It didn’t. She found out she had a diabetic ulcer and she almost lost her foot. “I was in the hospital four months and they kept giving me insulin and they gave me medication, but I didn’t know how to use the insulin. I didn’t know anything about diabetes. I was new at this.”
Years passed, and Carmona relocated to Kingsbury, but she continued to struggle with her Type 2 diabetes until she joined the health team and got a handle on the condition, she said.
“Ever since I joined, my sugar level is low. I don’t need insulin any more. I have lost weight, because I learned through the Kingsbury Health Team and the doctors and nurses that come and help us and give us classes,” she said. “They’re teaching me how to control my diabetes and what to do to get rid of my diabetes. I thought I would never get rid of it.”
Jamilla Nock, a lifelong Trenton resident, moved to her Kingsbury Towers apartment just six months ago, but already the Kingsbury Health Team has helped improve her health and the health of those around her, she said.
“I have diabetes, but I had it under control. A neighbor told me they were having a meeting about helping your health, and I said I’d go, because I was interested to find out more about something that I haven’t tried. I lost 3 pounds.” she said.
Last week, Nock helped to relieve a diabetic emergency that a girlfriend experienced when her glucose level suddenly shot up.
She said, “Oh my goodness what am I going to do?” Nock told her to sit down, relax and take her medicine. “That’s what she did and, sure enough, she started to come around,” Nock said.
The Kingsbury Health Team is assisted by visiting nurse practitioner Peg Nucero and Gregory Williams, a minister at the Turning Point United Methodist Church in Trenton.
Williams said hunger and poor nutrition is a common problem among Kingsbury residents, many of whom are fed through a food program offered by Turning Point.
“Every Saturday we feed between 200 and 250 people from the area, and about 35 percent of them are Kingsbury residents,” Williams said.
In addition to the support for medical treatment, health team members and residents attend weekly classes and training sessions, where they learn about diabetes and hypertension, nutrition and exercise.
“On Tuesday we have the walkers in the morning, and I do that,” Nock said. “We just try to walk around the building as many times as we can. We also have someone who comes in to teach us about cardio and ways, you know, to keep toned.”
Christy Stevenson, president of the Trenton Health Team, called the collaboration “transformative.”
“It’s a partnership, not where hospitals are building what it thinks the community needs, but instead, sitting down, face to face with individuals, hearing their stories and figuring out with them what they need to be healthy.”
Contact Joshua Rosenau at (609) 989-5707 or firstname.lastname@example.org
About the Trenton Health Team
Trenton Health Team (THT) is an alliance of the city’s major providers of healthcare services including Capital Health, St. Francis Medical Center, Henry J. Austin Health Center and the city’s Health Department. In collaboration with residents and the city’s active social services network, THT is developing an integrated healthcare delivery system to transform the city’s fragmented primary care system and restore health to the city. THT aims to make Trenton the healthiest city in the state. Support for the Trenton Health Team was provided in part by a grant from The Nicholson Foundation. For more information, visit www.trentonhealthteam.org.