Sugar Levels Low, Satisfaction High - One Class at a Time!
Thursday, August 11, 2011

Diabetes control success - Vera Brown and Carol Hughes, RN

Blackwood, NJ, resident Vera Brown, 61, was diagnosed with Diabetes at the end of March and began her journey with the Kennedy Diabetes Control Center classes at Washington Township in April. Although she had long since been a student in a classroom, Brown’s return to an educational setting provided lessons that have impacted her life greatly.

“I am more conscious of what I eat, especially when it comes to balance and portion control,” says Brown. The classes also encourage patients to exercise as much as they can. As a result, Brown says, “I’ve lost weight, I have more endurance, I can last longer.”

She also says that she has learned a great deal about her A1C Levels (average blood sugar level) and how glucose levels change from carbohydrate intake.

Aside from her health, Brown’s personal life has also improved from the program. “It helped me with my significant other because it helped him to understand what I was going through,” says Brown, who took her partner with her to her classes.

Brown attributes her successful experience to the fact that the classes were easy to understand. “If you didn’t understand, they brought it down to your level. The instructors were nice and pleasant,” she says.

According to Brown’s instructor, Carol Hughes, RN, CDE, the goal of the diabetes classes are, “Basically to educate and motivate. We want to motivate patients to manage their nutrition plans and diabetes.”

Hughes also says that Brown’s success is the norm among most patients who take the class, not the exception. She knows this, she explains, because the staff keeps track of outcomes on exams which reflect positive results.

For example, the program tracks statistics from A1C levels, which show the average blood sugar of the patients.

The levels are taken before the class begins and six months after. Hughes says that the average level among the patients before the class was 8.0% and post-class it was reduced to 6.4%. The goal as a diabetic is to get the levels under 6.5%, so these statistics represent a great accomplishment.

The program also keeps track of the percentage of patients that go for foot and eye exams, since instructors emphasize the importance of such screenings. According to Hughes, 71% of patients scheduled foot exams, and 74% went for eye exams.

Hughes believes the program has yielded such good results, “Because we try to be as personal with everyone as we can… we individualize everything for the patients. We have the patients set goals for what they want to accomplish after the class.”

Whereas some programs give all diabetes patients the same standard nutrition plan, Hughes says that Kennedy’s program includes individual appointments after the group classes to address more personalized nutrition plans and concerns.

Finally, Hughes says that it is important to keep patients involved in the three-hour classes to help the length of the sessions seem less daunting and to keep patients interested. “Most of the time is spent writing on the board and asking questions and that keeps them involved,” Hughes says.

Brown is pleased with such methodology. She says that the way the classes were taught made her more interested in the information presented.

“It has changed my life,” says Brown of the diabetes program, “it has raised my awareness.”

With a combination of an individualized, engaging program, good instructors, and willing patients, Kennedy’s diabetes classes prove to be both life changing and successful.

Contributor: – A. Michelson