Patients With Diabetes Find Success in Baptist’s Diabetic Management Program
Diabetes Education Program Helps Patients Thrive With a Challenging Disease
Unlike some chronic diseases, managing diabetes is complex. People with diabetes must take medication, learn to monitor their glucose level, understand their physical symptoms and adapt to new habits, such as healthy eating and daily exercise.
To help Mid-South patients with diabetes make lifestyle adjustments, Baptist Medical Group primary care physicians and the Diabetes Education Center developed a leading-edge program, called the Diabetes Care Coordination Implementation Team. The program regularly follows more than 5,200 patients and combines affordable diabetic education classes with phone calls to offer proactive treatment for patients with diabetes.
Diabetes Self-Management Classes Make an Impact
A diabetes diagnosis came as a surprise for Jennifer Coburn-Washington, a Memphis resident and customer service employee for Baptist Medical Group.
“I started feeling bad and couldn’t figure out what was going on with me,” said Coburn-Washington. “My doctor ran some tests and told me I was pre-diabetic. Of course, I thought, ‘No, not me. Other people have diabetes, but not me.’”
Coburn-Washington’s doctor prescribed medication and recommended diabetes education classes.
“I started classes at the Diabetes Education Center at Baptist Memorial Hospital-Memphis,” said Coburn-Washington. “I didn’t have an open mind when I arrived. I was probably the worst student in the program when it came to eating habits.”
According to Dr. Gregory Jenkins, general internal medicine specialist with Baptist Medical Group-Internal Medicine, the Diabetes Care Coordination Implementation Team was designed with patients like Coburn-Washington in mind.
“We developed the program to ensure patients with uncontrolled diabetes see their diabetic care provider every 90 days,” said Jenkins. “We also want patients to go to a diabetic self-management education class at least every two years. Our third objective is to make sure patients can access their medications and that they understand how to take them.”
Coburn-Washington experienced a learning curve, but with her doctor’s help, she learned to test her blood sugar level.
“I struggled at first because I faint when I see needles or blood,” said Coburn-Washington. “My doctor taught me how to measure my blood sugar level without being queasy. He did it for me a couple of times — and I quickly realized that it’s not painful. That helped me overcome my fear.”
Measuring her blood sugar level was simple compared to changing her diet. At 48 years old, Coburn-Washington believed it was too late to make significant changes. However, she learned to incorporate new foods into her diet by attending diabetes education classes.
“Ms. Jennifer Reed teaches the classes,” said Coburn-Washington. “She’s a certified diabetes educator and registered dietitian. Her classes helped me learn how to eat and what to eat. She gave me recipes and a diagram of my plate to show food groups and portion sizes. I keep the diagram in my purse as a constant reminder to eat from each food group.”
A Team Approach Achieves Promising Results
According to Jenkins and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a team approach to diabetes management can effectively help patients cope with diabetes complications and lower their risk for kidney disease, heart disease and stroke.
“A team of seven trained, certified medical assistants reach out to patients by phone on a regular basis,” said Jenkins. “This is the real beauty of the program. They ask patients how they’re doing with their diabetes. They remind patients to attend diabetes education classes and see their doctor every 90 days. They also answer questions and help them get medications.”
Data show the team approach has been successful in helping patients manage their diabetes. To gauge improvement, Baptist Medical Group physicians measure patients’ A1C, a blood test that shows average blood glucose level over the past two to three months.
“We compared their A1C when they entered the program with their most recent one,” said Jenkins. “About 2,300 patients gained control of their diabetes over the course of the program. We’re outpacing the national benchmark for telephone diabetic outreach in terms of A1C drop rates.”
Additionally, patients who completed all 10 hours of diabetes education classes reduced their A1C by 1.9 points, which is more than patients can achieve with any single medication.
“I’m not tired anymore,” said Coburn-Washington. “I have extra energy, and I’m eating a lot of great vegetables, fish and other foods I never would have tried before. It’s an informative program. It helped open my eyes.”
Patients who are cared for by a Baptist Medical Group primary care physician are automatically eligible for the program. Patients who are not cared for by a Baptist Medical Group primary care physician can access the program through the Baptist Outpatient Care Center, which is located at 2100 Exeter Road, Germantown, TN, 38138 or by calling (901) 701-5538.