At Alameda Health System’s (AHS) Eastmont Wellness Center the interdisciplinary chronic care team is helping patients who are both at-risk or currently living with diabetes to take their first steps toward better health by empowering them with education resources, tools and support.

“I find it most rewarding when our patients develop the necessary skills needed to begin proactively monitoring their diabetes,” said Registered Dietician, Certified Diabetes and Education Specialist Silvia Kellum. “Education is really key and while it takes a team to manage diabetes, patients are the most-valuable players (MVPs) on their own health care journey.”

Registered dietician Kellum is a member of the chronic chare team at Eastmont Wellness that includes Registered Nurse, Adult Medicine, Laura Rau and Pharmacist, Ambulatory Care, Helen Shin. In addition, they are all certified diabetes care and education specialists.

While working together to deliver quality, patient-centered care, Kellum, Rau and Shin play specific roles in supporting diabetes patients who are referred by their primary care physicians (PCPs). Once referred, the team schedules patients based on individual needs including diet, medication or self-care management.

The literature shows that taking action soon after being diagnosed can help prevent diabetes-related health problems such as kidney disease, vision loss, heart disease, and stroke. If your child has diabetes, be supportive and positive.

Regardless of the individual role they play on the chronic care team, collectively they agree that educating patients on all aspects of living well including maintaining a healthy diet, exercising regularly and monitoring blood glucose or sugar level continues to be the best path for living healthy lives.

“Too often I see patients with diabetes who have fallen into a passive routine of checking their blood sugar levels solely to provide readings to their PCP versus proactively using it as a valuable tool to help manage their diabetes at home,” said Shin. “It always feels like a small win when my patients start understanding what foods and activities cause their blood sugars to go up and they make the necessary adjustments to improve their numbers.”

The chronic care team at Eastmont Wellness Center shared that diabetes education is particularly important for the diverse communities AHS serves because the disease does not impact people equally. Diabetes disproportionately affects racial/ethnic minority populations. Compared with white adults, the risk of having a diabetes diagnosis is 77% higher among African Americans and 66% higher among Hispanics.

“I want our patients with diabetes that there is help available,” said Rau. “Our team is here to support patients in navigating their diabetes by learning how to eat healthy, reduce stress, increase daily exercise, improve sleep habits and take an active role in maintaining their health. Managing diabetes is truly a team effort.”

For more information on diabetes care, management and prevention, visit the National Institutes of Health (NIH)