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Oaklawn’s diabetes program renews accreditation, certification

MARSHALL – Local residents with diabetes who want help understanding their condition can be assured of access to the best local help possible.

Oaklawn Hospital’s Outpatient Diabetes Education Program recently renewed its accredited status by the American Association of Diabetes Educators and recertification from the Michigan Department of Community Health.

“This allows increased access to critical diabetes education services for residents in and around Calhoun County,” said Timira Perry, a registered nurse and certified diabetes educator since 2003 and coordinator of Oaklawn’s program, which offers instruction to individuals and groups.

“I’ve seen how diabetes education provided through our program has helped improve the lives of people dealing with this disease,” said Perry. “Diabetes is a growing epidemic, so it’s important that this service continue.” Diabetes affects 26 million Americans and 79 million people have pre-diabetes.

Since the program was founded in 2010, about 1,250 people – chiefly adults – have been helped through Oaklawn’s program, Perry estimated. The program grew out of a series of instructional classes offered by the hospital since 1999, she added.

The renewal of the program’s accreditation status and its recertification are indications of the program’s structure and professionalism, Perry said.

“The result is that the program is able to obtain reimbursement for its services through Medicare and Medicaid, and that’s important to its sustainability,” Perry said. “It means we can continue to offer this vitally important help to those who need it.”

The program helps people who have diabetes – or who are at risk of developing it – to obtain information and skills to modify their behaviors and manage the disease and its related conditions.

“Oaklawn’s program offers special training in diabetes self-management,” Perry said. “This is a covered benefit by Medicare and most health plans when provided by a diabetes educator within an accredited program.”

The program offers group classes at the Oaklawn Life Improvement Center as well as individual sessions at the hospital, often drawing on the expertise of additional medical professionals, including experts on physical therapy and foot care.

Mary Jo Lakatos, a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator since 2004, assists in instructing participants in proper diet habits, including the control of carbohydrates in meals and snacks.

There’s also room for the program to grow, Perry said.

“We’re looking now at those people who suffer from pre-diabetes,” she said. “It’s a condition where the blood sugar is abnormal but the disease hasn’t been diagnosed as such.

“We hope to be able to provide new classes for people who want to prevent or delay the actual diagnosis of diabetes, and learn to eat healthier,” Perry said.

The incidence of diabetes is projected to double or triple by the year 2050, Perry said. A leading cause of heart disease and stroke, diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.

Oaklawn Hospital’s Outpatient Diabetes Education Program is based at Oaklawn Hospital at 200 N. Madison St. It offers individual instruction and group diabetes education classes. For additional information, contact Perry at (269) 789-8972.

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