Holy Name Medical Center Blog

Diabetes Center Helps Patients Navigate a Complex Disease

Posted By Hilda Hernandez-Sepulveda, BSN, RN, CDE
Coordinator, The Diabetes Center at Holy Name on November 30, 2020
Hilda Hernandez-Sepulveda, BSN, RN, CDE

A diabetes diagnosis can be overwhelming. The disease can lead to debilitating and life-threatening complications, and managing it can require significant lifestyle adjustments.

At the Diabetes Center at Holy Name, our specialized healthcare team provides education and emotional support to empower those with diabetes and pre-diabetes with the knowledge they need to manage their condition.

Diabetes Cases are Rising in the U.S.

About 10% of Americans have high blood sugar, and 1.5 million new cases are diagnosed each year, according to the American Diabetes Association. Another 88 million adults have pre-diabetes, meaning their glucose levels are elevated, according to the group.

Glucose levels can be measured with a simple blood test, called an A1C test. Those who are pre-diabetic – with a reading in the range of 5.7 to 6.4 – can generally manage or reverse the condition through lifestyle changes involving exercise and meal planning. Those with readings above 6.5 are considered diabetic and also need medication, and perhaps, insulin.

Many don’t realize how dangerous diabetes can be. It can affect most every part of the body, from the eyes to the feet. As a registered nurse, I worked on a dialysis unit for a dozen years and saw the effects of the disease first-hand. About 30 percent of patients with Type 1 (juvenile onset) diabetes and up to 40 percent of those with Type 2 (adult onset) diabetes eventually suffer from kidney failure, according to the National Kidney Foundation.

Empowering Patients with Prevention Strategies

I'm passionate about empowering people to make changes that can eliminate or stall long-term complications, as are the other members of our team. We offer expert counseling on behavioral changes, medical care and prevention strategies. Patients get practical information on administering insulin, monitoring blood sugar, maintaining a healthy diet, exercise and more.

Physicians often don’t have the time to walk patients through the process of treating diabetes once it is diagnosed. Working closely with each patient’s doctor, we can help patients understand the nature of the disease and its complications. Our nurses and dietitians are all certified diabetes educators, and our program is accredited by the American Diabetes Association. In addition to English, staffers speak Spanish, Korean and Russian.

Once a patient's endocrinologist prescribes medication, we instruct the patient on how to use it properly. We guide patients in planning meals that are healthy but not restrictive, stressing portion control and taking cultural preferences into consideration. We can help devise exercise plans that fit patients’ lifestyles.

A physician referral is needed for the program, which is covered by Medicare, Medicaid and most insurance carriers. New patients spend about an hour during their initial visit to the center and then we monitor them monthly or quarterly. Many patients stay with us over time checking in for a refresher annually.

Ife Finerson, a teacher in Teaneck, said she knew very little about diabetes when she was diagnosed in 2017. At the center, she received not only information but support at a difficult time. “It can be overwhelming,” she said. “The center focuses on diabetes, but it helps people with so much more.”

Daytime and evening, group and individual counseling sessions are offered at The Diabetes Center at Holy Name Medical Center, 222 Cedar Lane, Suite 301, Teaneck. Ask your doctor for a prescription for Diabetes Self-Management Education (DSME). For more information or to schedule an appointment, call the center at 201-833-3371.