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Diabetes Education and Classes in Sea Level

Diabetes affects nearly 10% of the population in the United States and in Carteret County.  Up to a quarter of these individuals may not even know they have it. With more than 30 million people in the U.S. today being effected by diabetes, the often silent disease costs Americans an estimated $245 billion each year in medical cost. Diabetes is at an all-time high and medical professional advise that the rates are likely to continue to climb in the years ahead.

Unlike routine illnesses that can be solved with a visit or two to the doctor and a prescribed course of treatment, diabetes is a lifelong journey that often requires regular monitoring and lifestyle changes.

At Carteret Health Care, education is a top priority when diabetes or pre-diabetes are diagnosed.

“What we know from experience is that if people with diabetes get the right educational material, ideally right after their diagnosis, they have fewer chronic complications during their lifetime,” said Betsy Lane, BSN, RN, and Certified Diabetes Educator at the Carteret Health Care Learning Center. “We know that educating patients on prevention is also extremely important.”

Putting that information into the hands of those diagnosed with diabetes, regardless of how long they have lived with the disease, is exactly what the Diabetes Learning Center, 3722 Bridges Street Suite 203, aims to do. And there has never been a better time to make that first step than during November – American Diabetes Month. 

With proper treatment and monitoring, patients can avoid many of the chronic complications that frequently accompany diabetes. Hospitalization rates for heart attack are 1.8 times higher among those with diabetes, more than 60% of non-traumatic lower limb amputations occur in diabetic patients and more than 4 million diabetes patients suffer from retinopathy.

“Many patients aren’t even aware that there are a host of other medical conditions that are often caused or exacerbated when diabetes is present,” said Lane. “This makes it so much more important that we educate patients as soon as possible after their diagnosis.”

According to the 2013 Community Health Needs Assessment, 10.3% of Carteret County residents have diabetes, a slight uptick from the national average. In keeping its commitment to meeting the health care needs of the community, Carteret Health Care has continued to expand its free diabetes education.

“We do see a lot of it in the area,” said Lane. “Referrals to the Learning Center have gone up quite a bit.”

Referrals come from the hospital, as well as providers in the community. At the Learning Center, patients can expect one-on-one counseling to discuss diet, exercise and both acute and chronic concerns.

“The first visit takes about an hour,” she said. “We go over the disease process, what their particular risk factors are, family history, monitoring, medications, health eating, physical activity and complications of the disease.” In addition, Lane schedules a time for the patient to meet with a dietitian. Patients are also welcome to participate in support group meetings that are held from 6-7:30pm on the second Thursday of each month.

A free screening is scheduled Monday, November 30 from 9am until 11am in Carteret Health Care’s main lobby. Fasting is not required.

The program expands further this month by adding similar services in the rural reaches of Down East Carteret County. Lane and Learning Center staff held a free screening this month and will be meeting with patients beginning in January at Carteret Medical Group in Sea Level. Held the second Tuesday of every month, the group educational class will meet from 10am until 11am. Following the group class, individual classes will be offered in Sea Level by appointment. 

“We do get a lot of patients from the area and it’s definitely more difficult for them to access services just because they’re geographically further away,” said Lane. “Our goal, of course, is to make diabetes education as accessible as possible for everyone who can benefit.”

It’s just one more way Carteret Health Care is raising the level of Health Care and giving back to Carteret County.

The Learning Center is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Friday. To learn more about its free programs, call 252-808-6689 or visit www.CarteretHealth.org. 

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