The farther outside of metropolitan areas people live, the harder it is for them to access healthcare services, in large part due to the time and money it takes to travel outside their communities for care. Diabetes education is no exception.
Recently, Sutter Delta Medical Center’s Outpatient Diabetes Center achieved accreditation by the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE), joining other affiliated hospitals within the Sutter integrated network of care.
“Why is this important?” asks Shahla Cano, R.D., CDE, BC-ADM, Registered Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Educator and Board Certified Advance Diabetes Manager at Sutter Delta. “We want to make sure our patients don’t have to travel for diabetes education. Forty-five to 50 percent of patients here in Eastern Contra Costa County have diabetes—and those are only the ones who know about it. Unfortunately, there are not that many resources available to a population that is so critically impacted.
”All too often people don’t realize the dire consequences of unmanaged diabetes, and compounding that, according to Shahla, is that people with Type 2 diabetes can easily fall into a “shame and blame” trap and end up feeling guilty, which impacts their motivation to seek care. She wants to see more people in the community educated on what she calls the “basics of diabetes management.”
“It’s about the little things: taking the proper medications, taking care of your eyes and feet, and seeing your doctor,” she says. “When I see people getting their foot amputated—that shouldn’t happen. That’s why I’m so big on education.”
Sutter Delta’s accreditation by AADE means that the program operates based on evidence-based guidelines, offers approved educational materials, and the educators are accredited. The program has long been supported by generous donors in the community, providing thousands of dollars over the years for use by the program.
“What’s great about the free Living Well with Diabetes Classes we offer here at Delta is that participants get a free lunch. Plus, the class answers 95 percent of their questions. If someone comes to the class and still has questions, I will meet with them and do everything I can to make sure they have what they need.
“Ultimately, I will work with them personally to figure it out.”
Shahla points out that effective diabetes management is a team effort. It requires patient participation, effective education and communication with clinicians. For the most part, physicians don’t have the time to spend hours with individual patients, which is why Shahla says resources like the Outpatient Diabetes Center are critical.
Diabetes Management Requires Consistency
The constant vigilance and maintenance needed for effective diabetes management is something that Shahla likens to having a pet.
“You can’t take a break from diabetes. It’s a really tough disease. Having diabetes is like having a pet—you can’t give it away, but if you take care of it and manage it, you can be healthier than other people in your age group because you’re taking care of yourself.”
Shahla says Sutter Delta’s accreditation is important for several reasons.
“The accreditation is recognized by the physicians. We have to follow certain standards. And it pushes us to follow evidence-based care. What we say to people carries a lot of weight, and if the information clinicians give isn’t evidence-based, it could cause major harm. What I teach my patients is not something I am making up—it is based on years of research.
”Shahla is proud of the accreditation because it helps Sutter Delta better serve the local community better by providing easier access to diabetes education.“Diabetes education is a challenge, but we have to try because one person’s education about their diabetes could make the difference. I want to give it everything I have because it could make a difference in that person’s life.”
Shahla has a wealth of information she’s eager to share with members of the community living with diabetes, from diabetes management tips to information about glucose monitoring devices that may be covered by insurance.
The free Living Well with Diabetes Class is held once a month from 10:00 am to 2:30 pm at the Sutter Delta Medical Center Education Center at 3901 Lone Tree Way in Antioch. The class covers:
- Weight management
- Stress reduction
- Blood sugar control
- Complication reduction
The class also includes a $5 lunch voucher in the cafeteria. Those who would like the schedule or are interested in registered can call the center at (925) 779-3605.