By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
November is National Diabetes Awareness Month. In keeping with their desire to inform the public about the impact of the diabetes epidemic in America, as well as how to live well with the disease, Athens-Limestone Hospital wants to let you know what kinds of resources are available for people with diabetes and their families. Another way of putting it is, “Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Diabetes, But Were Afraid To Ask!”
Diane Magnuson is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. More interestingly, she has diabetes herself, which qualifies her to speak with authority and experience to her “fellow travelers.” She heads up the Diabetes Education Program at the hospital, and another facilitator is Jennifer Flack, MPH, RDN, LDN.
Diane’s story is an interesting one. She came here from Michigan in the early ‘90s due to her husband’s job transfer, and is someone who has always exercised, eaten right, and maintained her weight. As a Registered Dietitian, she “walked the walk.” However, there was a family history of diabetes, and her genes decided they were going to try to rule the day. It took a while to find out that she had diabetes, because her symptoms were somewhat subtle, and no one was more surprised than she when she was diagnosed. As a result of what she has had to do to manage diabetes herself, along with becoming a Certified Diabetes Educator, she possesses both patient understanding as well as urgency toward her clients successfully making the lifestyle changes necessary to keep from being defeated by diabetes.
“There is so much confusion about diabetes,” Diane told me. She then added, “Our goal is to clear it up and give up-to-date information that is helpful and that people can use.” She went on to tell me that people who have been recently diagnosed are most often overwhelmed by the overload of often conflicting information, the need to change their lifestyle, managing their medications, forming new habits, learning to cook differently, and making sound nutritional choices. Sometimes, they want to give up before they get started. That is one of the reasons they continue to facilitate the Diabetes Support Group, which meets at the Limestone County Senior Center on Pryor Street the first Wednesday of the month from 1-2 p.m.
“We teach clients about making one simple change at a time,” Diane told me. That has proven to be a great strategy, no matter what new habit you are trying to make, and having seasoned professionals who know how to break things down into manageable bites is one of the things that makes the program so successful. “Patients get individualized meal plans, exercise plans, and more,” she said. She says there are options for just about anybody, and most importantly, they make getting started realistic and doable.
Athens Limestone Hospital has put out excellent literature on what is offered in the classes, and says the following:
A person with diagnosed Type 1 or Type 2, gestational diabetes or pre-diabetes may benefit from diabetes education. Indications for the need of Diabetes Education at ALH re:
-New onset of pre-diabetes
-New onset of diabetes
-A 1c blood test higher than target levels
-Difficulty understanding and/or following diabetes meal plan
-Problems with high or low blood glucose (sugar) levels
-Change in diabetes medicines
-Diabetes with heart or kidney problems
-Diabetes foot and leg ulcers (wounds)
Costs: Medicare covers 10 hours of diabetes education at diagnosis. It then covers 2 hours of diabetes education every year thereafter. Many Blue Cross and other medical insurance policies cover diabetes education. It is always best to call your insurance company to confirm coverage. If diabetes education is not covered, the out-of-pocket cost for a 2 hour class covering diet and exercise is $40.
In addition, they have said:
Comprehensive diabetes education covers:
-Causes of diabetes
-How to check blood glucose (sugar) levels and understand the results
-How to control blood glucose levels
-How to give insulin (if applicable)
-Health problems from diabetes
-High and low blood glucose levels and how to treat
-Meal planning/carbohydrate counting
-Tips for weight loss
-Nutrition label reading
-How exercise helps diabetes
If you are someone who is battling diabetes, or are a family member in need of education in order to better deal with the needs of your loved one, these classes are for you! Classes are held at the Athens Limestone Hospital, which is located at 700 West Market Street, Athens, AL 35611. To schedule a diabetes class, call 256-233-9146 or ask your medical provider to send a referral to the Athens-Limestone Hospital Diabetes Program.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner