Diabetes Self-Management Program Welcomes Susan Hicks to New Location

There have been a couple of notable changes within MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital’s Diabetes Self-Management Program.

November 13, 2015

Diabetes Self-Management Program at MSMHC

There have been a couple of notable changes within MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital’s Diabetes Self-Management Program. First, it’s been relocated to the Sleep Lab area, and its old location on the third floor has been converted back to patient care space. Then, on September 8, Susan Hicks returned as program coordinator. Susan joins Sheila Gallagher, a registered dietitian who also works with the program, as two of the hospital’s certified diabetes educators. Susan is a familiar face to many associates—she worked as an educator and coordinator in the Diabetes Self-Management Program a few years ago. Since that time, the program has expanded to serve about 300 patients annually. It’s also become part of the MedStar Diabetes Institute, which tracks the progress of participants and provides Susan and Sheila with data on health topics.

Medical knowledge about diabetes has also changed, especially over the last five years, when many new and promising therapies have emerged. But what hasn’t changed is that diabetes is still a serious condition. The Diabetes Self-Management Program offers assessments, education, support, and a state-of-the-art approach to individuals who have been diagnosed with diabetes or pre-diabetes; have never attended a self-maagement program; or have difficulty controlling their blood sugar, cholesterol, and/or blood pressure, so they can better manage the disease. 

Something else that hasn’t changed is Susan’s role as program coordinator. She is responsible for the program’s day-to-day operations, including enrolling participants and providing them with the most current, evidence-based information and research. She evaluates the program’s teaching methods for effectiveness based on patient learning and outcomes, and ensures those methods follow the standards of the American Diabetes Association.

Ninety percent of a person’s ability to keep diabetes under control relies on self-management. “But diabetes management is more than just controlling blood glucose levels—it also involves diet, exercise, and ongoing education,” Susan says. “The Diabetes Self-Management Program is a good resource for that education.”

After diabetic patients are referred to the program by their physicians, the first step is an individual assessment, which is conducted by Susan or Sheila. Program participants can then attend a total of four in-depth classes, held at the hospital, to learn about diabetes self-care. Topics include monitoring blood glucose levels; nutrition; exercise; medications; foot, skin, and dental care; counting carbs; reading food labels; and more. Each class participant receives a personalized meal plan, and most insurance plans cover the cost.

Anyone with diabetes is also welcome to attend an ongoing Diabetes Support Group that meets at the hospital on the fourth Thursday of each month from 7 to 8 p.m. No pre-registration is needed, and family and friends of participants are welcome.

There are an estimated 26 million children and adults in U.S. who have diabetes, and seven million don’t know they have it. But even when they are made aware, “denial is a big problem after the diagnosis,” Susan says. “Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in this country, and it’s associated with an increased risk for heart disease, stroke, blindness, and other complications. But often people don’t realize how serious diabetes is. Our program helps them understand treatment options and the lifestyle changes they can make to control it and reduce health risks.”

 In fact, because of improved treatments, most diabetics can manage their disease better than ever before, and with careful monitoring, can maintain a very good quality of life.