Lakeridge Health is a unique blend of urban and rural communities with sites in Bowmanville, Oshawa, Port Perry and Whitby, as well as specialty clinics and centres throughout Durham Region. The distance between the sites poses challenges for Lakeridge Health (LH) but it also provides the hospital network with the opportunity to develop unique, regional programs such as the Lakeridge Health Corporate Diabetes Program.
“The goal of the Lakeridge Health Corporate Diabetes Program is quite simple,” said Brenda Dusek, Director of Medical Services for LH, “it is to provide our patients with the necessary support as close to home as possible and information to assist them in controlling their diabetes.” The program is unique because it utilizes a corporate team approach to diabetes education across all Lakeridge Health sites. Patients meet with a dedicated, multi-disciplinary group of Certified Diabetes Educators, which includes registered nurses and registered dieticians. To ensure quality and care standards across the sites the team has standardized the educational content, referral process and documentation. This guarantees patients will receive the best care possible no matter what site cares for them. Diabetes educators also work collaboratively with physicians both in the inpatient and outpatient settings. “Working as a unified team benefits the patients with diabetes,” explained Joan Hood, Diabetes Educator at Lakeridge Health Port Perry.
Outpatient programs are offered to patients in a group or individual setting. Based on the individual patient’s needs and issues, the diabetes educator books the patient into the program that best suites them. Newly diagnosed inpatients are educated on the basics of diabetes and are referred to the outpatient clinic for follow-up care. Treatment at the outpatient clinics includes: meal planning, physical activity, self blood glucose monitoring, sick day management, travelling with diabetes, foot care and medications.
The earlier patients receive treatment and education, the less likely they are to have complications. “Education programs are essential to our patients’ health but also to the health of our health-care system.” explained Ms. Dusek, “The better patients are at managing their illness, the fewer resources they will need in the long run. This results in less cost to our health-care system over time. And more importantly it keeps our patients healthier, longer improving their quality of life.”
According to “Diabetes Strategies for Prevention” it is estimated that more than 600,000 people in Ontario have been diagnosed with diabetes, and more than 300,000 may be unaware they have the disease. By 2016 the numbers are expected to double due in part to longer life expectancy, and an increase in risk factors such as obesity and lack of physical activity. The rate of increase is compounded in areas of high growth like Durham Region.
LH is taking these sobering statistics into account in designing the future of the Lakeridge Health Corporate Diabetes Program. The program is moving to develop and expand education and prevention. Some of the goals the team hopes to accomplish include developing strong linkages with other stakeholders in the community, developing programs that can access patients in their homes or community, and establishing diabetes prevention sessions at various locations within the communities. “Prevention is the key to patient success,” explained Ms. Dusek, “and the team of diabetes educators working in the clinics across Lakeridge Health works to achieve this success with all their clients.”