Pennsylvania has the dubious distinction of having one of the highest diabetes rates in the nation. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) and the American Diabetes Association (ADA), Pennsylvania has 1,456,000 residents who have been diagnosed with diabetes, which is nearly 13 percent of the adult population. Every year in the state, 71,000 people are diagnosed with the disease. In addition, 36 percent of adults in Pennsylvania have pre-diabetes and most are unaware.
In response to these trends, St. Clair Hospital established a comprehensive Diabetes Center to educate and counsel persons with diabetes and pre-diabetes. At the Diabetes Center, an expert team of specially certified diabetes educators and registered dietitians, in coordination with physicians, are thoroughly prepared to help anyone who is in need of diabetes education: the newly diagnosed, those who have a change in their condition, and those who have had diabetes for a long time but are in need of a refresher course. Family members are encouraged to participate. Diabetes education at St. Clair is personal and comprehensive. It consists of individual appointments and several classes that cover the basics of diabetes self-care and management: basic physiology, nutrition, blood glucose testing, insulin administration, medication management, exercise, weight management and the prevention of complications.
Diabetes education is essential. Patients should be seen individually, followed by group classes at the beginning and then an annual refresher to reinforce what they have learned and to bring them new information. In addition, the ADA recommends that education be provided when there is a change in treatment or the development of a complication. Studies have shown that people who come for education are more likely to take their medication as prescribed and to follow their doctor’s recommendations; they are more motivated. Diabetes education prevents costly and often catastrophic complications.