CHN Diabetes Education Expands Services

According to the 2011 Wisconsin Burden of Diabetes, 10.5% of the adults in Waushara County have diabetes. However, over 700 of them are not even aware they have the disease. This is why diabetes is often referred to as “the silent killer.” People often have no warning symptoms, especially in the early stages of diabetes. As blood sugars get higher and higher, a person is more likely to experience some of the more classic symptoms like thirst, frequent urination, fatigue and blurred vision (less common symptoms include cuts and sores that don’t heal, dry itchy skin, numbness and tingling in the feet and unexplained weight loss). Often, by the time a person is diagnosed with diabetes they have already had it for several years. This is why it is important to be aware of your own personal risk factors as well as the signs and symptoms of diabetes, and visit your provider regularly- so early diagnosis and intervention is possible.

Some of the risk factors for diabetes include: being older than 45, a family history of diabetes, being overweight, having high blood pressure and not exercising regularly. Certain races also have a higher prevalence of developing diabetes, including African Americans, Hispanics, Asians and Native Americans. In addition, having heart disease, high cholesterol levels, smoking, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and dark patches of skin in the neck, armpits and elbows are all risk factors for diabetes.

In order to prevent complications from uncontrolled diabetes, it is extremely important to identify this disease as early as possible. It is easily diagnosed at your provider’s office with a simple blood test. There are many complications from diabetes because high blood sugar causes damage to the inside of our blood vessels and blood vessels are everywhere in our body! That is why uncontrolled diabetes can result in complications like blindness, heart attack, kidney failure, neuropathy and sexual dysfunction. The good news is diabetes is actually one of the most manageable diseases.

Diabetic Education is crucial to help a person with diabetes understand their disease, know what options are available, and learn all the steps necessary to prevent the complications, including available medications, diet and exercise options, available monitoring, and how to avoid low and high blood sugars. A diabetic educator is able to spend up to ten hours teaching a person with a new diagnosis about their disease. This time allows for identification of problem areas that may prevent the patient from having optimum control of their disease, as well as the creation of individualized goals.

Community Health Network has had an American Diabetes Association recognized Diabetes Education program since 2007. It was started by Diabetes Coordinator Nancy Gimenez, RN,BSN,CDE, who still runs the program. Since 2007, the program has grown considerably and now includes two dietitians, a second diabetic educator and a nurse practitioner that helps with insulin pump management. Gimenez notes, “We now offer services that were previously only available in a larger healthcare system. Services such as continuous glucose monitoring and insulin pump management can all be done much closer to home, which is very nice for the people in our service area.” Gimenez also reports the addition of a satellite clinic at the Wild Rose Hospital, where educators see patients every other Wednesday to help decrease travel time and cost to and make it even more convenient for patients in the Waushara County area.

If you or a loved one has diabetes, whether it’s a new diagnosis or you’ve had it for years and can’t seem to get control, it’s time to meet with a diabetes educator. To see a CHN Diabetes Educator, you must have a provider referral. Most insurances and Medicare cover these services. For more information call Nancy Gimenez, Diabetic Coordinator at (920) 361-6530, or visit www.chndiabetes.org.

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