PITTSFIELD -- Berkshire Health Systems' medical director refers to diabetes as an "epidemic" from which Berkshire County is not immune.

"We probably have the same prevalence of the disease as other communities and may have more because a lot of the drivers are overweight, obesity, lifestyle and nutrition," Gray Ellrodt said.

In order to provide the public with a comprehensive overview of the disease, BHS is holding "Unite for Diabetes," a free health expo, on Monday at the Crowne Plaza Hotel.

The event, which is also sponsored by The Berkshire Eagle, will take place between 3 and 7 p.m. Admission is free, but registration is preferred. Attendees can register right up until the time of the event, said BHS spokesman Michael Leary. To register, call (413) 447-2060, or go to www.berkshirehealthsystems.org.

BHS has held diabetes events before, but this is the first forum it has held of this magnitude, Leary said.

Lectures, demonstrations and exhibitions are scheduled. Vendors will be selling glucose meters, insulin pumps and medications.

"Diabetes cannot be a one-size-fits-all type of approach," said Candy Lusa, a registered nurse who directs the diabetes education management education program at BHS.

"We're trying to bring awareness not only to those who have it and to help them manage the disease, but to those who are at risk and don't know that they have it," she said.


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"I hope that people walk away [from this event] knowing that it's never too late [to] make changes today to prevent diabetes," she said.

The seminars include lectures on taking control of diabetes, a patient panel discussion, what everyone should know about diabetes, and a discussion with a panel of medical experts.

"What I'm going to be talking about is really information about what diabetes is, why it's important, and ways to treat it," said Brian Phillips, an endrocrinologist at BHS, who will lead the lecture on what everyone should know about diabetes.

The health expo will also provide Information on healthy lifestyles, reducing risk, and the education and prevention of diabetes. Several local food establishments will be on hand to provide healthy snacks.