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Friday, 11 November 2016 13:24
National Diabetes Awareness Month A Look at the Role of the Certified Diabetes Educator
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Nearly 10 percent of Americans, 29 million people, have diabetes, according to the Center for Disease Control’s 2014 findings, but a Journal of the American Medical Association study last year said those numbers have been climbing, and in fact, about half of all Americans have either diabetes or are pre-diabetic. With that in mind, Saratoga Hospital has been building its Endocrinology and Diabetes practice with the addition of two Certified Diabetes Educators who are also Registered Nurses. They are on the front line of engaging patients about understanding and helping them manage their diabetes, being a part of the care team, and often seeing patients before they see one of the endocrinologists. “It’s an epidemic in our country right now. Millions haven’t even been diagnosed or they have pre-diabetes,” said Karen Hogan, RD, CDN, CDE, one of the now four Certified Diabetes Educators with the Saratoga Hospital Medical Group Endocrinology and Diabetes practice. “Basically, diabetes is when your body no longer produces insulin or your body is not functioning correctly in producing it. It can be genetic, which is Type II, or it can be Type I, which is usually a viral trigger. There is also a correlation between diabetes and our new society being somewhat more sedentary.” Hogan said the team approach at the Endocrinology Center is important, because the information can be overwhelming, especially for newly diagnosed patients. “We offer support and education, helping the patient to improve their diabetes management,” said Hogan. “There’s a lot of hands-on learning, helping establish goals, showing them food models, and helping keep abreast of the newest technology because it’s constantly changing.” One of the changes is the rising cost of insulin treatments, which can be daunting for some patients, said Hogan, so she and the other educators talk with patients about various medication options and patient assistance programs, and other sources for financial assistance. The cost, the daily diet and exercise planning, the treatment schedule, it can all be intimidating and Hogan is happy to be there to help. “I think the first thing they [new patients] don’t understand is that they still can eat the foods they love,” said Hogan. “There’s no restrictive list; it’s all portion control. They feel guilty, they think they got diabetes because of what they did, so we educate them that some of this is genetic, and if they have pre-diabetes, we teach them what they can do to delay it. If it’s in the genes, at some point you are going to get it. The one thing people need to do is see their providers, especially if they have diabetes in the family.” Hogan added that the main thing family can do is to listen to the concerns and frustrations of the diabetic. “It is a chronic illness,” said Hogan, “and they wake up every day and the first thing they have to think is ‘what do I have to do for my diabetes today.’ There’s the insulin shots, monitoring blood sugar, scheduling walks, it can be overwhelming. They need someone at home telling them what a good job they are doing. What they don’t need is someone telling them what they are doing wrong. They need encouragement.” Hogan said the educators look at barriers to a patient’s diabetes management, like not enough time, or lack of finances or support at home, and help to make sure they have the tools they need. “People come in so frustrated,” said Hogan, “and I’m here to help them with that. I think we’re very passionate about working with people who have diabetes here at Saratoga Hospital. We love to help them improve their quality of life.” According to Lisa Hodgson, RD, CDN, CDE Clinical Nutrition Manager at Saratoga Hospital, Saratoga Hospital and Saratoga County Public Health have recently formed a Prediabetes Coalition to raise awareness of prediabetes and diabetes prevention. Plans are underway to promote food drives at local food banks and food pantries that feature healthy food donations. The initiative is called “Nourish Your Neighbor” and began with the Eat Smart NY Program in Albany County. More details will follow in the coming weeks. During this Diabetes Awareness Month, the next Saratoga Moves program is set for Saturday, November 19. Saratoga Moves is a free community walking program open to all. It will meet at 8:30 a.m. at the Warming Hut in Spa State Park. The provider joining the walk this month is Michelle Frey, PA from the Endocrinology team of the Saratoga Hospital Medical Group. Frey will be available to informally answer questions about diabetes. For more information about diabetes and the Endocrinology and Diabetes practice at Saratoga Hospital, call 518-886-5121 or visit www.saratogahospital.org.