MedStar Southern Maryland Fights Back Against Diabetes | MedStar Health

MedStar Southern Maryland Fights Back Against Diabetes

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The Diabetes Self-Management Program celebrates 17 years of helping people live well with diabetes.

Shelia Gallagher and Susan Hicks, diabetes specialists, pose for a photo at MedStar Health.What causes diabetes? Can people with diabetes eat dessert? Is it true that healthy foods won’t raise blood sugar? When it comes to diabetes, there are a lot of myths out there. Yet knowing the facts about diabetes can save your life.

Here’s the truth: according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), more Americans die each year from complications related to diabetes than they do from AIDS and breast cancer combined. The good news is that a person’s lifestyle choices, particularly healthy eating, regular exercise, and medication, can help manage diabetes effectively. The first step toward living well with diabetes is learning what you can do to help control it – and that’s where the hospital’s Diabetes Self-Management Program comes in.

MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center’s Diabetes Self-Management Program has been helping people understand and manage diabetes since 1999. Now part of the MedStar Diabetes Institute, the ADA-certified program is staffed by certified diabetes educators and offers assessments, education, and support designed to empower people who have been diagnosed with diabetes or pre-diabetes, have never attended a self-management program, or are struggling to control their blood sugar levels.

“Denial is a big problem after the diagnosis,” said program coordinator Susan Hicks, RN. “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. Our program helps people understand treatment options and lifestyle changes that they can make to control it and reduce health risks.”

Participants attend a total of four classes to learn about diabetes self-care. The classes cover topics like monitoring blood glucose levels, establishing proper nutrition and exercise habits, taking medication, counting carbs, and reading food labels. Each class participant receives a personalized meal plan and follow-up.

The hospital also holds diabetes support group meetings on the fourth Thursday or every month from 7 to 8 p.m. in the Hospital Library. To learn more about the Diabetes Self-Management Program, or to sign up, call (301) 877-5560.