PCC Austin launches diabetes group medical visits

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By Community Editor

Summer marked a time for change for 12 dedicated PCC patients ready to learn how to live each day better with diabetes. Two small groups of six individuals with diabetes worked with an interdisciplinary team of staff at PCC Austin for four months in a unique medical model of a shared medical appointment.

Groups run with the support of two registered nurses, an advanced practice nurse, an AmeriCorps Healthy Lifestyle Educator, and a behavioral health consultant. The team will meet the needs of the patients by providing primary care visits, extensive diabetes education following established national standards, behavioral health consultations focused on self-management behavior and goal setting, individually tailored health education programs, and group activities in one consolidated session. Future meetings hope to include group conversations with a podiatrist; an ophthalmologist; and PCC's Dental Director, Dr. Ryan Tuscher.

On Tuesday, August 20th, nearly 40 patients, staff, and community members gathered to celebrate the graduation of PCC Austin's first Diabetes Group participants. The afternoon affair opened with an inspiring presentation from an "A1C Champion" who shared his own story about life with diabetes. The champion encouraged the audience to consider their own reasons for managing diabetes, including their families, hobbies, and dreams.

After the presentation, the Diabetes Group co-facilitators acknowledged the hard work of the group participants with awards and prizes. Patients were acknowledged for program completion, perfect attendance, most weight lost, and most lowered A1C level (a test that assesses a person's blood sugar levels over the previous 2-3 months). Each program participant beamed with pride as they were handed their certificates. One patient was able to lower her A1C by over six points after only five sessions. By utilizing just diet and exercise changes she was able to decrease her daily insulin shots from four each day to one.

Following the awards ceremony, the graduates and their supporters shared a healthy meal. When asked what he learned about diabetes from the Diabetes Group, graduate Shames Islam said, "I didn't know anything, so if I got anything, I got everything!" Islam's friend, a community member also diagnosed with diabetes, shared that he was thinking about joining the program.

Two new Diabetes Groups began on September 10th and September 17th at PCC Austin. The groups will meet once per month over the next four months with a scheduled January 2014 graduation.

For more information about PCC or the Diabetes Group, please contact Toni Bush, PCC's Director of Development, at 708-524-7687 or tbush@pccwellness.org.

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