Swope Health is a leader in diabetes prevention, care, and treatment, with programs designed to support and educate patients on this common chronic illness. Swope Health keeps a focus on diabetes in November, National Diabetes Awareness Month, and all year long.
“At Swope Health, we take action to prevent diabetes where possible, and we work closely with patients with diabetes to manage their condition and keep diabetes under control,” said Dr. Naiomi Jamal, Chief Health Officer at Swope Health. “We want to lessen the impact of diabetes on your life.”
Dr. Jamal, as a public health expert, designed groundbreaking programs to create an environment that better identifies pre-diabetes conditions and helps patients keep existing diabetes conditions under control. In 2018, she launched a pilot program to employ a diabetes checklist used with every patient at the Swope Health – Independence clinic.
This checklist looks for the three dominant diabetes-related issues: kidney disease, limb amputation, and blindness. For the eye test, there are retinal cameras at every clinic, meaning patients do not need to travel for or schedule a separate examination.
A second element of the pilot offered personal counseling with a diabetes counselor and small group visits with a certified diabetes educator. The practice of proactive monitoring and social engagement proved a winning combination that improved outcomes and led to the program’s expansion across all Swope Health clinics.
The program also now includes a Nurse Care Manager assigned to high-risk patients with uncontrolled diabetes. The nurse care manager develops specific care plans with the patient, and provides support with meeting goals involving medication, health foods, exercise and more. Part of that healthy foods initiative includes consultations with a registered dietitian, who can assist with nutrition, cooking tips, recipes and more, personalized for each patient’s needs.
Additionally, Swope Health participates in a Health Equity Learning Action Network project to improve diabetic health outcomes. The project focuses on the social drivers of health – those non-medical factors that influence health outcomes, including factors like economic stability, education, and healthcare access.
Health disparities still exist in diabetic outcomes and Swope Health’s programs are geared toward decreasing them, said Dr. Jamal.
And, beginning in December, Swope Health will offer a new specialty service in podiatry, which will also assist patients with diabetes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about half of all people with diabetes have some kind of nerve damage, and nerves in the feet and legs are most often affected.
This can lead to numbness, tingling or pain, as well as no feeling at all – which can lead to other issues if you can’t feel a cut, blister, or infection that may fester. The Swope Health foot care specialist focus on prevention and education, to avoid foot issues becoming more severe. Patients will be scheduled by referral from their primary care team.
Diabetes: the basics
Here’s a brief refresher on diabetes, with information from the CDC:
- Diabetes is a long-lasting health condition in which your body doesn’t make enough insulin or use it effectively to turn blood glucose or sugar into energy. If untreated, it can cause serious problems, including heart disease, vision loss, and kidney disease.
- There is no cure, but diabetes can be controlled with medications, diet, and exercise. There are devices to help you track your blood glucose level throughout the day.
- In the U.S., 38 million adults have diabetes. It’s estimated that 20 percent of them do not know they have it.
- Diabetes is a growing issue – about 98 million adults have a condition called prediabetes, with higher-than-normal blood sugars. Prediabetes can put you at risk of developing diabetes, but it can be prevented or delayed with medication and lifestyle changes.
During this National Diabetes Awareness Month, Swope Health encourages you to take action with an annual medical exam. At Swope Health, that exam will include tests to measure blood sugar and other clinical metrics and the diabetes checklist to help identity diabetes or prediabetes conditions. Call us at 816-923-5800 to schedule an exam or meet with your healthcare team.