Diabetes Education Makes a Powerful Difference

Diabetes Education Makes a Powerful Difference

According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), more than 10% of the population has diabetes, and each year, 1.5 million Americans are diagnosed with this chronic disease. While the statistics are alarming, there’s a lot someone with diabetes can do to live a healthier, longer life.

Whether you’ve just been diagnosed, are at high risk for complications or need a refresher on how to control your blood sugar, Holland Hospital can help you manage your diabetes—instead of letting it manage you.

“The more you know about your disease, the more you’re able to take charge of your life,” said Joe Poisson, who was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in March of 2021. Along with prescribing medication, Poisson’s primary care physician also referred him to Holland Hospital’s Diabetes Self-Management Education Program

Based on national standards developed by the ADA, the program helps people living with diabetes:

  • Feel empowered to better manage their disease
  • Lower health care costs due to improved symptom control
  • Decrease the risk of eye, kidney and nerve damage, and cardiovascular disease
  • Increase their energy level and independence
  • Enhance overall quality of life

“Having diabetes can feel intimidating because it’s something you have to stay on top of forever,” he said. “The work is worth it though. I have more energy and I feel a lot better now.”

Because he transitioned from field work to office work, Poisson, 39, doesn’t have to move around as much as he used to for his job. As a result, he devotes significant time and effort into managing his diabetes. Each week he spends about six hours staying physically active and prepping food to meet his new dietary requirements. “I’m constantly buying vegetables. It feels like my daughter and I go through at least five pounds of carrots each week,” he said, “and I try to get at least 150 minutes of activity every week, too.”

Through his diabetes education, he discovered the powerful effect working up a sweat had on his health. While Poisson’s A1C was 6.9% at diagnosis, thanks to his dedication to staying active and modifying his eating habits, he was able to bring that number down to 5.1% within a few months.

“Joe’s positive outlook has been very encouraging,” added Edith Munezero Tye, RN, diabetes care and education specialist at Holland Hospital. “He hasn’t just worked hard to improve his own health; he’s shared his experience and insights with other class participants, like explaining how exercise would drop his blood sugar by 30 points.”

In addition to improving blood sugar through exercise, one-on-one and group diabetes education classes cover:

  • The basics of type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes
  • Meal planning for blood sugar control
  • Monitoring blood sugar levels and targets to reach
  • Medication management
  • Insulin therapy training and insulin management
  • Preventing short- and long-term diabetes complications

“I learned I had a lot of added sugar in my day,” Poisson said. “I cut out soda and it took some adjustment, but changes like that can really make a difference.”

Holland Hospital’s Diabetes Self-Management Education is available in person or virtually (remote). Most insurance companies cover the cost of up to 10 hours of diabetes education and two to three hours of nutritional counseling for those who are newly diagnosed. For more on our diabetes program and services, call (616) 394-3273.

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