Expanding Access to Care

Carmen was shocked six years ago when she went to a St. Vincent Charity health screening and found her blood sugar was nearly four times what it should be. The nurse doing the screening, Leslie Andrews, St. Vincent Charity’s Diabetes Coordinator, quickly worked with Carmen to get her life-threatening sugar level under control.

Andrews, a registered nurse and certified diabetes educator, encouraged Carmen to complete St. Vincent Charity’s Diabetes Education Program. Education focuses on nutrition, understanding medicines, managing and preventing complications, and living well with diabetes.

Last year, the program provided more than 600 individual and group visits for nutrition and management education.

Leslie Andrews, RN and Mariellen DeSmit, RN - Diabetes Coordinators at St. Vincent Charity.

Leslie Andrews, RN and Mariellen DeSmit, RN - Diabetes Coordinators at St. Vincent Charity.

“I never paid attention to my sugar until I came to the screening. The education program has taught me how to count carbs and how to test my sugar myself. Now I test it every day,” Carmen said.

Shortly after she learned of her own disease, she received alarming news that both her adult children also had diabetes. Her son’s high sugar was also identified at a St. Vincent community health screening. This frightening news spurred Carmen to work even harder to manage her disease so she could help her children.

My first thought was, ‘Are my kids going to die before me?’

Carmen went to work applying the lessons she learned at St. Vincent Charity’s education program to teach her son and daughter how to control their diet and manage their sugar.

To keep herself and her children on track, Carmen continues to attend St. Vincent Charity’s Diabetes Support Group, which meets at the hospital six times per year. The group transitions patients from learning about diabetes to managing their disease long term.

“We see such success with the support group because it gives patients the encouragement they need from their peers. They all share the same condition, so they understand better than anybody the struggles each person faces,” Andrews said.

To express her gratitude for the support she receives at St. Vincent Charity, Carmen now volunteers at the hospital’s monthly health screening at the May Dugan Center so she “can help other people, like I was helped.”