Diabetes affects nearly 10 percent of the population in America, with many new cases diagnosed each year. A newly diagnosed patient may feel overwhelmed with the life-altering changes that come with a diabetes diagnosis – that’s where Porter’s Diabetes Education Department steps in.
“We are educators,” shared Diabetes Clinical Nurse Specialist Donna Doty. “Our focus is on teaching our patients about their diabetes and educating them on how their medications work as well as signs they need to look for and information they need to report to their physician if there is an issue.”
Diabetes Education offers a series of five classes for diabetic patients. Each class covers a specific topic related to diabetes, ranging from meal planning to complications that can arise, with the last class offering a summary of the series and a chance for patients to ensure they completely understand their condition. “Once they receive a referral from their physician, patients meet with us individually so we can place them into the classes,” shared Diabetes Education Nurse Susan Wehren. “This gives us a chance to spend time with them and work them into a class schedule that fits their life needs.”
“We act as the patient advocate too,” Doty continued. “If a patient calls distressed about their blood sugar levels, we help communicate their concerns to the physician to facilitate a quicker response.”
The three-nurse department relies heavily on a team mindset in order to serve their patients. “We work closely with the physicians and their nursing staff as well as Central Scheduling to make the initial appointments. We also work with the hospital dieticians who attend a few classes to instruct our patients on nutrition,” said Doty. “As a small department, we value the great communication with the other departments we work with, as well as the communication between the three of us. We are always working together for the better of our patients.”
Continuing education is key to practicing evidence-based care. “We all hold a certification in diabetes education,” said Wehren. “We renew our certification every five years to keep current with new information on the management of diabetes so we can continue to offer the latest information to our patients.”
“We bring the information back for the betterment of the patients,” Doty continued. “We are always looking at new technology to help patients receive the best quality of life.”
Beyond helping patients understand their condition and coordinating their education, the department ensures there is future support available to those who need it. A support group is offered once a month, February through July and September through October.
Diabetes Education is more than a career choice for this team. “We’re doing what we love to do,” said Wehren. “We are spending time with these patients and seeing the effect the education and support has on their lives. It’s rewarding to see goals achieved and people taking control of their health.”
Porter Health Care System has two hospital campuses and seven outpatient facilities serving Porter, Lake, LaPorte, Starke, Newton, Marshall and Jasper counties. With more than 350 physicians representing 50 medical specialties on the medical staff, Porter Health Care System is committed to medical excellence and personalized, patient-centered care.