New Jersey success stories

NJ Local Success Stories
Quality improvement endeavors can often feel overwhelming, but chances are, you can learn from the experiences that another physician, hospital or nursing home has had in a similar situation. Coupled with support from Quality Insights Quality Innovation Network, learning what has worked for others — and what didn't — is a valuable strategic planning component. 

Managing Diabetes and Feeling Better than Ever

WalterWalter is an Atlantic City man who was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes less than three years ago.
He found out about a free diabetes program called Everyone with Diabetes Counts (EDC) which was scheduled to take place at AtlantiCare HealthPlex, a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC). The program was scheduled through AtlantiCare Health Engagement, Population Health, in conjunction with the Community FoodBank of New Jersey, Southern Branch. Program participants like Walter also received free bags of groceries while attending the program.

EDC uses the Diabetes Empowerment Education Program (DEEP) as a curriculum. The program consisted of an evidence-based workshop series that took place once a week for six weeks, for two hours each session. Participants learned about healthy eating, exercise, preventing complications, medications, stress and depression, self-monitoring and more.

EDC Logo Picture 4Before the first session, Walter was not sure what to expect and did not think he would commit to all six weeks. But once he met the other workshop participants and recognized that people in his community were going through the same experiences and encountering similar challenges living with diabetes, he was motivated to continue.
Walter likes to exercise at a school track in Atlantic City. Before the workshop, he was not able to complete half a lap. Feeling disappointed, he gave up and went home.
As a result of the workshop, however, Walter gradually increased his exercise to six laps around the track. He used music to encourage himself to keep moving.
“It is a beautiful thing for me to feel the way I’m feeling,” Walter gleefully said. “I’m feeling better than I have in years!” 
Additionally, over the course of six weeks, Walter’s A1C went from 8.9 to 6.4. A1C consists of average blood sugar levels over a three month period. When correlating those numbers to blood sugar, his average decreased from about 210 mg/dl to 140 mg/dl. Walter was extremely proud of this accomplishment and was thrilled to share it with all of the workshop participants, who congratulated him on his notable success.
“It was a blessing for me,” he said. “I woke up.” 
Before the workshop, Walter admitted that he was not engaged in the self-management of his diabetes. The workshop turned his life around.
The most eye-opening segment for Walter was learning about nutrition. One particular demonstration show how food breaks down in the body by using sugar cubes to represent carbohydrates, lard to represent fat, and salt to represent sodium. The demonstration consisted of a typical fast food meal, which included chicken strips, cole slaw, mashed potatoes and gravy, and a biscuit. Once Walter got a visual of how the stomach sees this food, he was overwhelmed and motivated to make the necessary changes to improve his eating habits.
The program also discussed the importance of maintaining a relationship with health care providers. Walter now keeps his doctor informed and up-to-date on the steps he is taking to manage his diabetes. He is also more comfortable asking for advice.
“I can do more than I thought,” Walter affirmed.
The workshop empowered Walter to take control of his health and life, and he hopes that other people with diabetes take advantage of this free workshop in their communities as well.
Quality Insights offers free diabetes workshops as part of the national Everyone with Diabetes Counts (EDC) program. View a list of upcoming workshops. To learn more, call Jarmaine Williams at (732) 955-8168.
About Everyone with Diabetes Counts
EDC is a national initiative funded by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and offers free self-management workshops to people with Medicare who have diabetes, their family members and caregivers.  Quality Insights Quality Innovation Network, supported locally by HQSI, offers the free workshops throughout New Jersey. Workshops are designed to educate individuals about diabetes and help them learn how to manage it and take control of their health through various tools, behavior modification and coping techniques. Participants learn about diabetes and its risks, preventing complications, healthy eating, exercise, how to deal with stress and difficult emotions, managing medications and much more.