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There’s Support For You If You Have Diabetes

November 10, 2021
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More than 34 million Americans have diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That’s about one in every 10 Americans. You can live a healthy and active life with diabetes, but it always helps to have some assistance. That’s where Ryan Health’s Diabetes Self-Management Education and Support (DSMES) groups come in.

Nancy Rodrigues, RN, BSN, Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist at Ryan Health, runs the DSMES groups at Ryan Chelsea-Clinton. Barbara Vega, RN, MPH, BSN, Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist, runs the groups at Ryan Health | NENA. They also provide one-on-one counseling. The groups are a collaboration between our Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialists and Ryan Health’s Registered Dieticians (RDs).

What can you expect from the Diabetes Education and Support groups?

Nancy Rodrigues: “Diabetes is a huge life change for people, but it’s one you can live with. Our classes provide so much emotional support for people living with diabetes. The first class is the hardest — it takes a lot of courage to walk into that room.

“But once you’re in the room, you find a welcoming group of people living with diabetes, some of whom will have a support person with them. Diabetes is a family illness. Everyone has to participate. The whole family has to support the person with diabetes and make changes together. It can be a challenge, but it’s not hard.”

What do you talk about?

Barbara Vega: “Each month we have a different topic for discussion, but we leave it up to the patients to determine what they want to talk about. If they have a question that starts a discussion, that’s where the conversation goes.

Discussions have focused on healthy eating around the holidays, monitoring blood glucose, and medications, which will be continued and expanded upon.

Does stress impact diabetes?

Barbara Vega: “During the pandemic, many people who had pre-diabetes or who had their Type 2 diabetes under control saw a change in their status.

“Stress, isolation, working from home, not going out as much, limited exercise with dietary changes — a lot of people saw their blood sugar numbers shoot up. The change in activity made a difference and really impacted patients.”

What role does nutrition play in controlling diabetes?

Both Vega and Rodrigues encourage their diabetic patients to see a Ryan Health nutritionist to help them better understand their diets, in addition to the classes. Small changes can have a big impact on controlling diabetes, and a sweeping dietary change often isn’t necessary.

Nancy Rodrigues: “Patients always think a nutritionist will make them restrict everything they eat. But it’s baby steps. Give up Gatorade and Coke. Make changes that are sustainable.”

Is there a fee for the groups, and do I need to be a patient of Ryan Health to attend?

You need to be a Ryan Health patient to attend the Diabetes Self-Management Education and Support classes, or for one-on-one sessions with Rodrigues or Vega. But there is no charge for either.

Barbara Vega: “We want to know our patients, so we can monitor their outcomes.”

Nancy Rodrigues: “I sometimes ask people to bring in their medications, and we find that some of them have expired or that their blood glucose meters don’t work.”

When do the groups meet?

The Ryan-Chelsea Clinton group meets on the last Tuesday of the month, which will be November 30 and December 28. The Ryan Health | NENA group meets on November 23 and December 14. The schedule for 2022 is still being developed. To sign up for the classes, please call 212-316-8336 for the Ryan Cchelse-Clinton location or 212-477-8518 for the NENA site.

What about Spanish language groups?

While both Rodrigues and Vega speak Spanish, no Spanish language classes are scheduled just yet. But patients are invited to join the class and bring a support person to translate or ask for clarifications, if necessary. Patients can also schedule a one-on-one session.

Diabetes Education and Support Group

The Ryan Chelsea-Clinton group meets on the last Tuesday of the month: November 30 and December 28.

The Ryan Health | NENA group meets on November 23 and December 14.

To sign up for a one-on-one meeting at Ryan Chelsea-Clinton, call Nancy Rodrigues at 212-316-8336, or to sign up for one at Ryan Health | NENA, call Barbara Vega at 212-477-8822.