Diabetes care receives $3 million injection
Aileen Burnett said over the last seven months, she has learned she is in control of her diabetes, and that it's not the other way around.
In March, she was referred to Health Sciences North's Complex Diabetes Program, which has been operating at the Sudbury Outpatient Centre for a little more than a year.
The program provides care and consultation on an outpatient basis for people with complex diabetes, or those with whom diabetes is linked to other health conditions such as obesity and heart disease.
Some of the services provided include education and management of diabetes and other health complications, wound management, personalized fitness sessions, motivational counselling and navigating the health-care system.
Burnett said her diabetes have led her to develop multiple ulcers on her feet. Without the care of the Complex Diabetes Program, she thinks she would have had to undergo an amputation by now.
She said she enjoys interacting with the caring health-care professionals with the program.
“You're not an illness when you're here. You're a person,” Burnett said.
“They'll meet you at the elevator, and they know you by name, which is very important. They'll ask 'How are you feeling?' and 'How are your children? Then they'll ask 'How are your sugar levels?' and 'How is your blood pressure?'”
On Sept. 14, Sudbury MPP Rick Bartolucci announced $2.7 million in provincial funding was announced for the Complex Diabetes Program for the 2012-2013 fiscal year.
He also announced $289,000 in base funding for the 2012-2013 fiscal year to run the Chronic Disease Self-Management Program in Northeastern Ontario.
These investments come at a time when the province is fiscally challenged, “so we've made choices,” Bartolucci said. One of the province's priorities is investing in quality health care, he said.
“We will continue to work in collaboration with our partners to ensure that those people with diabetes have the proper resources in order to ensure they manage their diabetes, and it's not the other way around.”
Dr. Denis Roy, president and CEO of Health Sciences North, said the hospital's diabetes programs are a “wonderful example of how the health care system can be more patient-centred and effective.”
“This is the health care of the future,” he said, in a press release.
“By offering the service in a one-stop, outpatient setting, we are helping patients better manage the chronic condition of diabetes with better outcomes and less disruption to their everyday lives.”
Teresa Taillefer, program co-ordinator of the hospital's Diabetes Care Service, said the hospital has always provided some services for diabetics, but the Complex Diabetes Program is much more comprehensive.
Some patients even visit the program on a weekly basis, she said.
Because of the provincial funding, the Complex Diabetes Program has been able hire a number of different health-care professionals who work together as a team to help patients.
This includes four nurse managers, who help patients navigate the health-care system and other aspects of their lives.
“The nurse case manager is that friend to help them navigate through the system,” Taillefer said.
“They can make phone calls for them and can help get them from point A to point B. It's really resulted in just the little bit of extra help the patients needed at to get them through a rough time, and then they're able to self-manage things better.”
Taillefer said the whole point of the program is to decrease hospital admissions and emergency room visits.
“With only 266 patients, we can track them quite easily right now,” she said. “We have seen a significant decrease in ER visits and visits to the hospital. It is having an impact.”
Tracie Parks, the co-ordinator of the Chronic Disease Self-Management Program, said her program was started a year and a half ago.
She said she was glad to hear about the funding, as they'd originally only received funding for one year.
While the money pays to hire just a handful of staff, Parks said the program has a large reach. That's because health-care workers across the northeast have volunteered to implement the program in their area.
“We've gone to at least 15 different communities,” she said.
Parks said the program involves workshops over six weeks on how those with chronic diseases such as diabetes can take better care of themselves.
Participants are encouraged to set goals for themselves related to their health and well-being. These goals can include getting more exercise or even cleaning their homes.
“We have them set a goal every single week that is small, but they can achieve,” Parks said. “They come back and tell us how they did, and if they didn't do very well, we do some problem-solving with them.”
The program hasn't been running long enough to see if there's been an impact, she said. However, similar programs exist elsewhere, and have been proven to decrease interactions with the health-care system, Parks said.
“So we know it has the potential to do that,” she said.
“This is the first year we're actively recording statistics for our region. We'll have to wait and see what happens, but I'm encouraged by the feedback I'm getting from the people in the program.”