WINCHESTER — In 1995, WDMH’s clinical dietitian Deirdre Cooke noticed a big increase in referrals for diabetes education. She knew that these patients needed more support. So, she started looking for ways to expand services.
Three years later, the Diabetes Education Program at WDMH was launched, thanks to funding from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.
Today, the program runs five days a week with a full-time Nurse Diabetes Educator, two part-time Dietitian Diabetes Educators, a part-time Administrative Assistant and an Endocrinologist. Together, the diabetes team offers individual and group education for clients with pre-diabetes and Type 2 diabetes. They have also expanded their services to include clients with Type 1 diabetes, with insulin pumps and with gestational diabetes. Clients can self-refer to the program and there is no cost.
Many advances have been made in understanding diabetes, in medications for diabetes and in technologies available. “Twenty years ago, there was only a handful of medications to choose from and now there’s more than two dozen,” notes Deirdre. “There are now blood glucose meters that link to apps on your phone, blood glucose meters that don’t require any blood, continuous glucose monitoring devices that alert you when blood sugar is low, and online forums and videos to support people living with diabetes. Our team is proud to support our clients every step of the way.”
Despite these advances, the chronic disease of diabetes is not going away. Over the next decade, Ontario is facing the largest increase in diabetes prevalence among all provinces. A 44% increase in the incidence of diabetes is forecast in Canada from 2015 to 2025. “But the good news is that people can reduce their risk. The key to living well is education,” adds Deidre. “You don’t know what you don’t know until you know. Then you can work in partnership with your family physician and our diabetes team to live well and long with this disease.”
To mark its 20th anniversary, the WDMH Diabetes Education Program team is hosting a celebration on Wednesday, November 21 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the hospital. There will be presentations on how diabetes care has changed over the past 20 years.