It’s been nearly four years since we opened the doors to the University of Maryland Charles Regional Center for Diabetes Education here at the hospital. In the time since then, our dedicated, expert team of specialists have worked to address the growing need for diabetes-specific care in our community.
Diabetes education truly is an important element of the comprehensive care we’re working to provide every day in Southern Maryland. According to the latest data available, diabetes is the fifth most common cause of death (based on death rate per 100,000 people) in Charles County. In addition, diabetes deaths are also more common among local residents than they are in the state of Maryland as a whole.
How the Center for Diabetes Education is Turning the Tide
In the short-term, diabetes isn’t a debilitating condition, which means people aren’t as likely to seek expert care immediately. Over time, however, diabetes can cause serious health problems, including cardiovascular disease, nerve damage, kidney damage, eye damage, and more. It’s why we always encourage people with type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, and even prediabetes to seek educational resources to learn more about how they can manage their condition safely and effectively.
Although no two diabetes diagnoses are exactly the same, education and support are a big part of improving patient outcomes. That’s where the UM Charles Regional Center for Diabetes Education comes in.
Led by Diabetes Nurse Educator Cindy Adams, this specialty practice takes a team-based approach to help people manage their diabetes. This team works with patients in individual and group sessions to answer questions and provide support that can help people live well with diabetes. Here are just a few of the services they offer:
- Blood sugar meter training
- Insulin instruction and injection training
- Diabetes self-management education for adults with type 1 or type 2 diabetes
- Resources for women with gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy)
- Diet and nutrition recommendations
- Referrals to local endocrinologists and other specialists
- Free support groups for adults with diabetes or prediabetes
Since 2016, the Center for Diabetes Education has been visited more than 3,000 times and has helped hundreds of people in Charles County live better with diabetes. For one recent patient, that meant reducing his A1C (the measurement of how well a person’s body is controlling its blood sugar) from 7.9 percent to 6.9 percent — an improvement that’s well ahead of national averages for A1C.
When to See a Diabetes Education Specialist
Whether you’ve recently been diagnosed with diabetes or you’ve been living with diabetes for a long time, there are several reasons you might benefit from diabetes education. Here are some of the situations in which you should see a diabetes education specialist:
- A new diabetes diagnosis
- Changes in a living situation (now living alone or moving in with children)
- Newly diagnosed health conditions, such as kidney disease, heart disease, etc.
- Changes in physical abilities and/or limitations
- Unexplained low or high blood sugar levels
- Weight issues or ongoing concerns related to nutrition
If you have diabetes and would like to see improvement in your blood sugars or learn more about what to eat, talk to your health care provider about a referral to the Center for Diabetes Education. To learn more about the Center for Diabetes Education or to schedule an appointment or learn more about upcoming support group meetings, please call (301) 609-5444 or email DiabetesCenter@umm.edu.