MOUNT AIRY — Northern Hospital of Surry County announced it has received a $148,500 grant to provide a Diabetes Education and Self-Management Program from the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust in Winston-Salem.
The project will fund the expansion of the Diabetic Center of Excellence at Northern Family Medicine. The program objective is to improve the lives of local residents by reaching out to newly diagnosed diabetics and through an individualized, evidence based diabetic care plan, teach these patients to manage their diabetes and achieve an average hemoglobin A1c drop of 2.6 points or 23 percent. The hemoglobin A1c test, also called HbA1C or simply A1C, is an important blood test that shows how well a person’s diabetes is being controlled. The grant will give program leaders the necessary tools and exposure to grow the Diabetes Program, with a goal of enrolling 30 new patients a month over a 12-month period of time.
The Diabetic Center of Excellence was created in October 2014 at what was then Northwest Medical Center (now Northern Family Medicine). From the beginning, the program was designed to produce measureable and reportable patient outcomes, individualize care plans for the patients and minimize the amount of medications patients have to take.
“The key component of our program is communicating on a level that crosses socio-economic boundaries. This is why our “home-grown” approach succeeds in teaching multifaceted aspects of diabetes management to everyone,” said Mike Cartledge, PA-C at Northern Family Medicine and Director of the Diabetic Center of Excellence.
“We are passionate about patient education and believe a knowledge-empowered and encouraged patient can accomplish anything,” said Dr. Nelson Gardner of Northern Family Medicine.
Program Coordinator Paige Cartledge, RN launched a pilot round of 30 patients in October 2014. In June 2015, an evaluation of the first 58 patients revealed an average HbA1C drop of 2.3 points across all age groups. A re-evaluation of the program in November 2015 revealed a drop of 2.6 points in HbA1C, which is a decrease of 23 percent.
“Education is crucial to patient success,” said Cartledge. “We designed classes that meet the individual needs of our patients. Four of the six classes in the program focus on preparing healthy balanced meals for diabetics. Diabetics come away from the classes with a foundation for meal planning that makes them feel they can ‘eat like normal people’ and not have to starve to death. The program teaches label reading and choosing smart foods for diabetics instead of just telling our patients ‘don’t eat anything white.’
“This program provides a holistic preventative approach to patient care empowering patients to be successful and bringing about behavioral changes which improve quality of life not just for a few months, but the rest of their lives,” she said.
It is estimated well over 10,000 Surry County residents are plagued with uncontrolled diabetes. Surry County has a Chronic Diabetes ranking of 31 percent above the national average. It is the eighth leading cause of death in this county. Uncontrolled diabetes can result in sight loss and loss of limbs. Continually elevated levels of glucose (aka high blood sugar) damages blood vessels and can lead to additional chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, dementia/Alzheimer’s and kidney failure.
The Diabetic Center of Excellence is committed to enrolling 30 new patients each month. On average, its patients will have an A1C level of greater than 9.0, over half will be obese, and 10 percent will be smokers. Based on reports from the 2015 pilot program, patients will lower their A1C levels by least 2 points. The program is covered by all insurance programs including VA-Choice and Non-VA Care programs, and financial assistance programs are available for under or uninsured patients.
There are plans in progress to enhance the program including a virtual grocery store visit, healthy meal preparation and cooking classes, and a cookbook focused on local residents and their eating preferences and habits.
The center is located at 280 North Pointe Boulevard in Mount Airy at the Northern Wellness Center. Northern Wellness Center houses Northern Family Medicine, a seven provider family practice office, a full retail pharmacy, medical weight loss center, and complete fitness center with an indoor walking track, fully equipped Nautilus and weights gym, multi-purpose gym, indoor and outdoor pools and nutrition management.
Anyone interested in participating in the Diabetic Education and Self-Management Program should call Cartledge at 336-786-4133 extension 1028. More information may also be found online at www.northernhospital.com/diabetes.