Learning to Lose to Become a Winner

Contest promotes better health to diabetes patients

By Léo Azambuja

For the second year in a row, the Molokai General Hospital (MGH), in partnership with the University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine, sponsored a heath contest in which the biggest losers are the winners.  

The MGH A1c Las Vegas Challenge promotes lowering hemoglobin A1c levels among diabetes patients. Contestants accumulate points by lowering A1c levels. Winners take home a round-trip ticket to Las Vegas.

Hemoglobin A1c is a blood test that reflects the average blood glucose level of a person over a two-to-three month period. By lowering their blood glucose levels, diabetes patients can improve their overall health and enjoy a better lifestyle.

Nurse Jeanette Bince, the contest director, said MGH diabetes patients go through diabetes education and listen to motivational speakers. The contest lasts for three months. Divided in groups of three, contestants motivate each other with positive reinforcements. Bince said maintaining a healthy lifestyle is a challenge to diabetes patients.

Although winners are announced in the end of the contest, there were no losers. Bince said all of the nine participants decreased their A1c levels and weight, and had improvements in blood pressure, fasting blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

All participants said the challenge was a positive experience, and that they enjoyed it.

Alexander Bishaw, Sr. and his wife Donna Bishaw, and Alexander Puaa, Jr made up the first-place team. Each won a certificate to a trip to Las Vegas, courtesy of Non-Stop Travel.

“I feel better than before,” Donna Bishaw said. She was excited about going to Las Vegas with her husband. But she said they did not enter the contest because of the main prize, it was to better their health.

“I was in denial,” Bishaw said. She had been diagnosed with diabetes just over a year ago, and it was about time she did something to improve her health. “We needed to this, for our family,” she said.

The second-place team earned certificates to local stores. Margaret Makekau earned the most point on that team, and took home a round trip on the Molokai Princess ferry. The second place on that team, Richard Negrillo, Jr, will play 18 rounds of golf at Kaluakoi for free.

Diabetes is a serious disease affecting many Hawaiians. The disease doesn’t have a cure, but can be controlled by lifestyle changes, such as a healthier diet and moderate exercise. Pacific Islanders have twice as much chances than Caucasians of developing the disease.

Last year 15 people enrolled in the contest. This year participation dropped to nine. Be sure to keep informed about next year’s contest. You might get a new lease on life, and on the side, go on a free trip to Las Vegas. Please call Bince at 553-3121 for more information.


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