Walk with a Doc program starts in Groton
Groton — It was a walk in the park with a purpose.
A dozen people participated in the inaugural “Walk with a Doc” program Saturday at Poquonnock Plains Park to get a bit of exercise and learn about the prevention and treatment of Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses.
The program is aimed at getting people out for a low-impact way to improve health, and pairs a health care professional with participants in an informal setting to discuss a wide range of health-related topics, according to Jerry Lokken, recreation services manager in Groton.
“Walk with a Doc” is a national program started by Dr. David Sabgir, a cardiologist who practices with Mount Carmel Clinical Cardiovascular Specialists at Mount Carmel St. Ann’s hospital in Westerville, Ohio.
The Groton Parks and Recreation Department and Lawrence + Memorial Hospital jointly brought the program to Groton.
On Saturday, licensed practical nurse Beverly Genader joined walkers for a nearly two-mile jaunt — four laps around the track — while providing information about treatments for Lyme disease and how to prevent tick bites.
“So many people around here have had Lyme disease,” Genader said. “The first thing to know is how to prevent a tick attachment.”
Genader said that, to prevent tick bites, an insect repellent with 20 percent DEET, or diethyltoluamide, is recommended.
Even after a tick attachment, she said, getting to a doctor within 72 hours may help prevent contracting Lyme disease with one dose of an antibiotic.
She also recommended showers and self-examination after yard work or time in the woods.
Those who are diagnosed with Lyme disease — which often leads to symptoms that include headaches, fatigue and joint pain — typically will undergo several weeks of antibiotic treatment.
She said there is a urine test in the early stages of development that could help detect the disease much sooner than the blood tests now do.
The participants in Saturday’s walk included people who were not only interested in the topic but who have had Lyme disease themselves, and others who saw the opportunity to get some exercise.
Dr. Ed McDermott, medical director at Fairview senior living in Groton, came out for the walk and shared some of his own input about Lyme disease and showing how to properly remove a tick.
“I’ve seen a lot of Lyme disease over the years,” McDermott said. “It’s an important issue.”
Otherwise, he said, “it’s nice getting people out to walk and exercise. I should be doing more myself.”
Future topics will include talks on diabetes, how exercise can help depression and navigating the emergency room, according to Laurel Holmes, director of community partnerships and population health at L+M.
She said the hospital also is trying to line up a professional to discuss the opioid epidemic.
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