Community Health Care

CHRISTUS St. Michael Hospital – Atlanta Fights American Diabetes Epidemic with Multiple Patient Programs

CHRISTUS St. Michael Hospital – Atlanta Fights American Diabetes Epidemic with Multiple Patient Programs



Atlanta, TX – CHRISTUS St. Michael Hospital – Atlanta delivers their fight against diabetes in Cass County and Northeast Texas to the forefront with their Diabetes Education Program, including classes and a Diabetes Support Group for patients.

“These programs are aimed at helping to curb the growing American epidemic of diabetes,” said Deborah Hughes, RN, CDE, Education Coordinator at CHRISTUS St. Michael Hospital-Atlanta. “There are almost 26 million Americans who currently have diabetes, and that is up almost 20-percent from just 2-years-ago. These new numbers reflect the growing problem and reinforce the need for education, research and prevention.”

CHRISTUS St. Michael has taken a leading role in these efforts. The Diabetes Education Program at CHRISTUS St. Michael Hospital – Atlanta includes classes and support groups tailored to the needs of the patients.

“Patients begin the process with a one-hour individual session for a health assessment,” explained Hughes. “We check their glucose, blood pressure and weight. We discuss health issues, find out what medications they are taking, discuss current diet and find out what the patient wants to accomplish during the 4-week class. We make sure they have a monitor and are checking their blood sugars, too.”

Classes are presented by a Certified Diabetes Educator and a Licensed/Registered Dietician to help patients set goals and aid in meeting their personal goals during the next 4-weeks. Classes are hosted in a group setting, unless there is a reason why the patient does not want to be in a group. Experts say patients tend to perform much better in group classes as they learn from other people and how others are experiencing many of the same challenges they face.  CHRISTUS St. Michael can provide individual classes if needed but caution they are not usually as effective.

“The classes provide patients with the tools they need to manage their blood sugar and to decrease the risk of developing complications,” said Hughes. “We teach helpful techniques such as ‘carb counting’ and also something called the ‘plate method.’ It all depends on how in-depth the patient wants to learn about meal planning. Many of our patients are interested in weight-loss as well, so that’s also included.”

Another crucial component of the Diabetes Education Program is the shared community of the support group. Group meetings are a casual, relaxed and informal place for people with diabetes and/or their family and caregivers to meet with our Diabetes Management Team. It’s a good time to discuss ongoing management of the disease, and each month a new topic is introduced and discussed.

“Most of the patients who attend the Support Group have gone through the 4-week course, but that is not a requirement,” said Hughes. “We have a spouse who comes to the Support Group to learn how to take care of their partner who has diabetes. This meeting provides ongoing support and assistance to participants in managing their diabetes.  We have various topics that we discuss: meal planning, exercise, eating out, stress management, etc.  Each month, we set a topic for the next month based on what the group feels would benefit them the most. There are question-and-answer sessions, cooking demonstrations and more.”

Since Diabetes is a progressive disease, it is a daily challenge for our patients to manage their blood sugars. Many patients become very discouraged when they are doing “all they can do” to keep blood sugars under control and their numbers are still elevated. Studies show meetings provide support and encouragement for patients to manage their diabetes the best way possible. Many times, they have questions that they do not feel comfortable asking their physicians or don’t know how to approach them.

“CHRISTUS St. Michael Hospital-Atlanta is committed to providing the most current information available to our patients and to offering them the support and care they need to be successful in their journey toward a healthier, happier life,” said Micah Johnson, MSN, BSN, RN, Administrator/Chief Nursing Officer. “Our multi-disciplinary team of health professionals is standing ready to help those with diabetes to manage their disease. We have a responsibility to this community and to our patients to improve their whole health, and that is crucial to our mission to extend the healing ministry of Jesus Christ.”

Physician referral is required to attend the Diabetes Education Classes, and there is a charge for the four-week class. Most insurance plans typically cover at least 80-percent of the cost of the classes and some now cover 100-percent of the cost of the classes. Anyone can attend the Diabetes Support Meetings held on the third Tuesday of each month at 1 p.m. at no charge, and no referral is needed. The support group meetings are conducted in the Medical Plaza building on the hospital campus.

Contact person for additional information:
Deborah Hughes, RN, CDE
Education Coordinator
Number is (903) 799-3004

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