Diabetes Prevention Program – Health Extension Agent Melissa Bales

January 28, 2021

Health Extension Agent Melissa Bales is hard at work delivering the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) to citizens of Greenville County. When their in-person classes were stopped due to COVID-19, the program adapted by moving all existing groups to a virtual format. All four of Melissa’s DPP groups, a total of 38 participants, that were meeting in-person have transitioned to meeting either through Zoom or a conference call, whichever method the group decided on for continuing with the program. As of October 2020, one group graduated from the program while virtual with a retention rate of 66.7 percent, and another group is scheduled to graduate next month.

Melissa worked with Rural Health and Nutrition Program Team Leader, Michelle Parisi, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to establish the necessary framework for Extension to offer DPP 100 percent virtually and begin working towards national recognition for Extension’s program. Now, two groups have been started following this framework, with a total of 11 participants enrolled. A third, 100 percent virtual group will begin at the end of October. All three groups meet through Zoom.

In addition to transitioning groups to a virtual format, participants receive a weekly phone call, email, or text to check in with their progress in the program. Participants have reported increases in physical activity, improved diet, lowered blood sugar levels, and improved self-confidence with making healthy changes.

Melissa also worked with another Greenville Health Extension Agent, Danielle McFall, to lead a group of the WalkSC program. This program enrolled 74 participants with 71 completing the program, and helped them become more active through a private Facebook group. Participants in this program reported increases in activity and improved diet.
Melissa has also written several fact sheets and blogs for the Home and Garden Information Center regarding topics such as prediabetes, eating healthy at restaurants, and burnout.


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