PLATTSBURGH - The Diabetes Education Center at CVPH Medical Center has been helping diabetics in various ways for the last three years.
According to the American Diabetes Association, November is American Diabetes Month, and a time to keep in mind how serious a disease it is.
The DEC is the only program in Clinton County to be certified by the ADA, providing numerous programs to help diabetics cope.
One major program the center offers is a Diabetes Self Management Education class, a 10 hour course held over four weeks, which provides diabetics, both type I and type II, with a way to manage their diabetes.
"There's skills that if somebody is newly diagnosed or if they haven't had diabetes education at all, they may have been diagnosed maybe 2, 3, 4, 20 years ago and never got it, we offer this ... class for them to come in to learn more about managing their diabetes," explained program coordinator Darcy Reid. "It's about healthy lifestyle changes."
Reid explained during the four weeks, clients meet and discuss topics such as portion control, weight loss, and carb counting.
"For the first week we get their weight, and it's really kind of motivating for people to see every week that 'Oh, I've lost a pound' or 'I've lost two pounds' or 'Wow, five pounds' or whatever," said Reid. "It's just a motivator and they can see that this really does work when they apply these things."
The class also tries to clear up any myths diabetics may have heard, and help them to understand what is happening with their body.
"We might have one or two people in the class that have type I and the majority of them are type II," Reid explained. "We can talk about the differences between the diabetes."
"People with type I diabetes, that's where there's insulin deficiency," she added. "There's no insulin production at all and they have to take insulin injections. Type I people tend to be much leaner."
Reid further explained one of the major risk factors for type II diabetes is obesity.
"It makes the cells in their body resistant to the insulin that's produced."
Aside from weight management, the class also helps people to understand blood glucose monitoring - how to use a meter and what the target levels should be.
"We find that some patients, they'll say they were diagnosed with diabetes ... but they really don't know sometimes .... what targets they should be working toward for blood glucose."
Reid explained many people who join the education class bring a partner with them for support.
"It's kind of a support ... that helps to motivate them," she said. "Keep them going. Not to nag at them, but it's also a good thing to have somebody else who is close by you to learn what you're learning so that they don't nag."
At the end of the four weeks, clients will have completed nine hours of education, leaving them with one hour to be used as one-on-one time with a dietitian or nurse.
If one-on-one time is preferred by a client, they can opt to take the self management course as an individual with a nurse or dietitian.
"Some people don't learn well in a group and they would prefer to do that," said Reid. "We can still go through 10 hours, or six hours, or eight hours, whatever it takes."
Another program offered by the center is insulin training. Reid said some people come to the education center, newly diagnosed with diabetes, but never received the proper education about how the insulin works.
"That's something we can do here. Come with your ... insulin and we can talk to you about how the insulin works, how to use it," Reid said. "So it kind of decreases frustration."
Currently Reid and registered dietitian Ann Watts are both certified insulin pump trainers and can start people on insulin pumps, with a doctors referral.
The center also offers a continuous blood glucose monitoring for diagnostic purposes, over the course of three days. The monitor records the blood sugar levels and after three days the client comes back to the office, the information is printed out and the client can see what their levels are during the times they do not typically test.'
"We can look at that report and we can see 'Oh, it looks like every morning at 4 a.m. you're dropping your blood sugar. It can be the reason why X, Y, Z happens,'" Reid explained. "It's kind of a nice thing we offer."
The DEC also provides assistance to women who have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes and how to manage it during the course of the pregnancy.
If interested in joining the Diabetes Self Management Education course, contact the DEC at 562-7326. A referral from a physician or primary care provider is required.
The center also has a Diabetes Support Group, which meets the third Tuesday of each month at CVPH. For more information about the support group, contact William McCall at 562-7325.