Serving patients while raising awareness Quarterly diabetes day at the Tulalip Health Clinic

By Andrew Gobin, Tulalip News

The Tulalip Karen I. Fryberg Health Clinic held their quarterly Diabetes Day Tuesday, May 13. Diabetes Day is held once every three months, and for four hours the clinic makes all the services readily available to patients.

“With diabetes, it’s just convenient to have everybody right there and then to see me,” said Veronica Leahy, diabetes educator for the clinic. “People can come in and do their labs. Some people have had to fast, so we have healthy snacks available for afterwards.”

While Diabetes Day is intended to provide convenient all inclusive same-day service to patients, there is  also an effort to bring awareness to people on how to prevent the disease. Clinic nurses used diagrams and models to show the effects of unhealthy lifestyles and how they can lead to or magnify diabetes.

Burleigh Snyder is a patient of the clinic and an advocate for diabetes awareness. He participates in most of the diabetes events, and contributes the gardens at the clinic and at the Hibulb Cultural Center.

He said, “I should be six feet under. My highest number (highest blood sugar level) was 1873. I was found in a coma, I died three times at the hospital. I advocate for diabetes awareness so that maybe what happened to me will help someone else prevent diabetes in their life.”

Rob Taylor, who volunteers at the clinic’s garden, said, “We are showing people how to eat better. Diet is so closely tied to diabetes and obesity. Healthy eating to reduce weight is very beneficial to diabetes. We would like to expand the garden, maybe include an orchard, but that’s a ways out.”

The next Diabetes Days are August 12 and November 18. Stop in at the Tulalip Health Clinic from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on those days to learn more.

Andrew Gobin is a reporter with the See-Yaht-Sub, a publication of the Tulalip Tribes Communications Department.
Phone: (360) 716.4188

Tulalip clinic dispensing gardening advice for better diets

Tulalip clinic gets patients growing veggies, herbs

Mark Mulligan / The HeraldSandy Swanson, a licensed practical nurse at the Tulalip Health Clinic, waters plants in the new garden outside of the clinic on June 16. Swanson works in the elder care program, and when she gets a chance will duck outside to work in the garden. "It makes me smile to come out here and care for these plants," said Swanson.
Mark Mulligan / The Herald
Sandy Swanson, a licensed practical nurse at the Tulalip Health Clinic, waters plants in the new garden outside of the clinic on June 16. Swanson works in the elder care program, and when she gets a chance will duck outside to work in the garden. “It makes me smile to come out here and care for these plants,” said Swanson.

By Bill Sheets, The Herald

TULALIP — When a doctor at the Tulalip tribal health clinic advises a patient to eat healthier food, it doesn’t have to be only words that are heard or written down on paper.

The doctor can take the patient right outside the building and show them that they can grow that food for themselves.

A small, rudimentary vegetable garden at the Tulalip Karen I. Fryberg Health Clinic was greatly expanded this year with several new raised wooden beds. Leeks, kale, squash, cucumbers, peas, tomatoes and more are thriving in their southwestern exposure to the summer sun over Tulalip Bay.

Culinary and medicinal herbs and plants are being grown as well — parsley, tarragon, basil, lavender and rose hips, to name a few.

“It’s about engaging with our patients,” said Bryan Cooper, clinical lead at the health center. “Instead of telling them what to do, it’s ‘Let’s work together.'”

The incidence of diabetes on the reservation is high, and the garden is especially geared toward helping diabetics manage their condition through their diet.

Doctors and staff members from the lab and pharmacy have been accompanying patients to the garden to discuss the possibilities, said Roni Leahy, diabetes coordinator at the clinic.

Planting soil, tubs, gardening materials and advice have been dispensed on special-event days at the clinic, such as a recent “Diabetes Day.”

The garden is an extension of a program established two years ago with the opening of the Hibulb Cultural Center and Natural History Preserve a few miles away, Cooper said.

In one program there, young people have been taught traditional ways of harvesting and processing native medicinal plants. In another, titled “Gardening Together as Families,” a popular community vegetable garden was established.

At the clinic, the idea was to build on the success of the Hibulb programs and create a direct link between the medical facility and healthy diets, staff members said.

The late Hank Gobin, the tribes’ cultural director who helped establish the Hibulb programs, was motivated to improve tribal members’ diets in part because he himself was a diabetic. He passed away in April at age 71.

“It’s always about people and their health and well-being,” Leahy said. “That’s how we keep his memory alive.”

The clinic garden has been maintained by staff members and volunteers. At the end of the season, the food will be used at tribal events, Leahy said.

Sandra Swanson, 73, a career nurse, works full time in the clinic’s elder care program.

“Then I come out here and play,” she said, as she dug in one of the planters.

The plan is to expand the garden next year to a nearby slope facing the bay, with terraces and a trail, Cooper said.

More volunteers are needed, staff members said.

“We want to start these (gardens) and get them to a place where the community takes over,” Cooper said.

Bill Sheets: 425-339-3439;

Health fair

A health fair and blood drive is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday at the Tulalip Karen I. Fryberg Health Clinic, 7520 Totem Beach Road.

For more information call 360-716-4511.

Diabetes Day, July 16

The Tulalip diabetes team is pleased to provide an opportunity for receiving a wide range of diabetic services at one time. Our team is dedicated to assisting you with improving your health thru education, healthy foods, screenings and by having activities available for you to enjoy. If you have access to our services at the health clinic, please arrange to come anytime from 9-1pm. We will have breakfast and snacks available plus some quality incentive items for your participation.



Eat healthier with Tulalip Clinic’s new community garden


Monica Hauser (left), diabetes educator and Veronia Leahy, diabetes program coordinator at the Tulalip Health Clinic, at the site of the newly opened health clinic garden on June 11.
Monica Hauser (left), diabetes educator and Veronia Leahy, diabetes program coordinator at the Tulalip Health Clinic, at the site of the newly opened health clinic garden on June 11.

Christopher Anderson, North County Outlook

The Tulalip Health Clinic’s new garden program, developed to combat diabetes, opened June 11. The clinic hopes it can get patients to eat healthy by teaching them to grow healthy foods.
Veronica Leahy, diabetes program coordinator at the Tulalip Health Clinic, says that participants will learn about blood pressure, their weight, healthy foods and exercise, but they will also learn about canning, making vinegars, salad dressing and jams.

“They’ll see it’s colorful and that’s what we really want to demonstrate,” she said. “It’s not so much having a classroom and watching a Powerpoint. This is a way of teaching people intangible ways to be healthy by working and laughing outside together, connecting, relationship building, which is also really good emotionally. We’re feeding not just their bodies, but we’re feeding them in emotional and spiritual ways, too.”

The program will take place during the work hours for the clinic.

The clinic’s garden is inspired by a pilot program started two years ago at the Hibulb Cultural Center called “Gardening Together as Families.”

“The idea of that was to teach families how to grow organic vegetables so that they would learn to have a healthier, well-balanced diet and learn how to enjoy gardening,” said Leahy.

Leahy liked how the program brought families together, engaged them with healthy eating and how families came back week after week. “Multi-generational families are coming together and eating, talking and working outside and then starting to grow small little container pots of plants,” she said.

The garden at the Tulalip Health Clinic will look different though. While the Hibulb garden is culture-oriented and family based that takes place on the weekend, the new garden is an individual-based program that takes place on weekdays.

The Tulalip Health Clinic will also supplement its program with more medical services like blood pressure screenings and diabetes screenings.

Leahy said the reaction has been positive so far. “One of the things I’ve really enjoyed is hearing people say ‘it’s so nice to come to the health clinic and not be sick’ but they’re coming here to do something fun at the health clinic,” she said.

She also pointed out that tribal leader Hank Gobin had been a supporter of the Hibulb garden before he passed away this April and that this new garden was started on his birthday.

Clinic staff members hope that patients take ownership of the garden and drive the program forward. “Our slogan is ‘working together to create a healthy and vibrant community’ and this is the tangible part of that,” Leahy said.

The clinic hopes to expand their garden when the health clinic expands next year and eventually create a garden walk for patients so they have something to do instead of waiting in the lobby, Leahy said.

For more information contact Veronica Leahy at 360-716-5642 or

New support for moms-to-be

Dan Bates / The HeraldAisha Bone, 25, reads "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" to her daughter, Paige, who turned 1 on Friday. Bone is expecting her second baby in December and became interested in Providence Regional Medical Center Everett's new prenatal program offering support and education.
Dan Bates / The Herald
Aisha Bone, 25, reads “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” to her daughter, Paige, who turned 1 on Friday. Bone is expecting her second baby in December and became interested in Providence Regional Medical Center Everett’s new prenatal program offering support and education.

By Sharon Salyer, The Herald

With her second child due in December, Aisha Bone is something of a veteran when it comes to pregnancy and delivery.

Yet the Everett mom, 25, was quick to sign up when she heard about a new group being formed for expectant mothers.

The Centering Pregnancy program provides moms the opportunity to attend 10, two-hour sessions where they can spend time with a nurse midwife.

It substitutes the typical prenatal office visit of about 15 minutes with a two-hour session each time the group meets. Moms can ask questions and learn from each other, said Jamie George, a certified nurse midwife who will lead the group.

Over the course of the pregnancy, that adds up to about 20 hours of personal attention.

“That’s a huge difference in the face-to-face time you have with your provider,” George said.

The ongoing series of classes begins June 18 at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett. Moms join when they’re about six months from their scheduled delivery date.

New groups are scheduled to start each month. The groups are kept small, with about a dozen members, so that each woman can get personal attention. The group meets monthly for four months, then every two weeks after that.

Over the next year, the classes, which are covered by insurance, could serve up to 400 women. Services also will be provided on a sliding-fee scale. No one will be turned away for lack of ability to pay.

Moms practice the breathing techniques used during birth and get questions answered about topics such as the aches and pains of late-term pregnancy and tips on breast-feeding.

“I think it opens your mind up to different things that you may not have thought about compared to if it was just you and the midwife,” Bone said. “If someone else has a question, it may make you think about something you may never have thought of before.”

There will be belly checks to monitor the baby’s development, checks of the mom’s weight and blood pressure, and listening to the fetal heartbeat.

The sessions also will provide friendship and emotional support for mothers. This can be especially important for women who don’t have family nearby or those who are separated from their spouses through military deployment.

“It can be a scary thing if you’re pregnant to be alone,” Bone said. “To have that support system is good for the mom as well, not just for the child.”

For this reason, contacts are being made with Naval Station Everett to inform women about the program. Information also is being provided to the Tulalip Health Clinic. The Tulalip Tribes are the state’s second largest tribal group.

The program was begun in Everett through a $20,000 grant from the March of Dimes. The goal is to reduce premature births and low-birth weight babies, who can develop physical and developmental problems.

In Snohomish County, nearly 9 percent of all babies are born prematurely and nearly 5 percent have lower that normal birth weights, according to the state Department of Health.

A birth is considered premature if it occurs three weeks before the typical 40-week pregnancy.

Infants born prematurely often have compromised lungs, problems with feeding and other medical problems, said Lori Wilson, a physical therapist at Providence Children’s Center.

The babies also are at higher risk for developmental problems.

Everett joins Centering Pregnancy programs that are now offered in nearly every state. In Washington, Madigan Army Medical Center has been offering the program for a number of years, said Gina Legaz, director of program services for the March of Dimes.

The state chapter began offering start-up grants for Centering Pregnancy programs in 2011, including one to the Columbia Health Center in South Seattle.

Bone said she was familiar with the Everett hospital’s midwifery program, where her first child, Paige, was delivered by a midwife.

“I liked the idea of having the best of both worlds,” she said. “The midwives were respectful, but in the off chance that something did go wrong, I would be at the hospital and have great health care resources.”

Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486;

Centering Pregnancy

The first Centering Pregnancy group begins June 18 at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett. New groups are scheduled to start monthly, with the next beginning July 15. For more information, call 425-303-6500.