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. 

New Jersey Peer Leader Sees Difference Diabetes Education Makes in Community

Mike PhotoAs Mike Menaker was packing up workshop materials at a senior center in Trenton, New Jersey last August, a participant named Anthony approached him.  Anthony took Mike’s hand and wouldn’t let go.
“Mike, I just want to thank you,” Anthony said. “You have no idea how much this class has helped me.  Do you have a few minutes to talk?”
Anthony felt at ease with Mike’s patience and wanted to review his action plan again.  Mike and Anthony also had something important in common – they were both military veterans.  Though Mike really did not have much time to talk due to his tight schedule with volunteer work, he unquestionably agreed.   
EDC Logo PictureEarlier in the year, Mike was looking for a volunteer position that would utilize his passion and experience in healthcare, along with his presentation skills.  As a result, he signed up for a Diabetes Self-Management Program (DSMP) Peer Leader Training at Healthcare Quality Strategies, Inc.  (HQSI) in East Brunswick, New Jersey and completed a four-day training. 
“I knew from day one this would be a rewarding and needed program for our communities,” he said.
HQSI is a member of the five-state Quality Insights Quality Innovation Network, which is funded by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Quality Insights coordinates the Everyone with Diabetes Counts (EDC) program in New Jersey, which facilitates the free DSMP workshops.
DSMP was developed at Stanford University and is an evidence-based six-week workshop series that has helped many people around the world learn ways to take control of their health and diabetes.
Mike brings a variety of experience and energy to his role with EDC. He is a retired business professional and military veteran with experience in medical programs. He is an entrepreneur, a volunteer for Mercer County SHIP (State Health Insurance Assistance Program) and participant of the Retired Seniors Volunteer Program. 
Mike has had a passion for healthcare from a young age.  At the age of 12, he read Grey’s Anatomy – a well-known textbook for medical students – for fun. In his early 20s, Mike was drafted into the Army and sent to Korea.  In addition to his many military duties, he organized medical programs that were eventually recognized with awards by the Korean government.
In 1976, he and several of his comrades created the American Refugee Committee. They recruited and organized approximately 40 doctors and nurses for a Cambodian refugee program, which was eventually transitioned over to the U.N. High Commission for Refugee Affairs (UNHCR).
After his military service, Mike met his wonderful wife. As they began the journey of raising their four children, he continued to gravitate toward all things healthcare.  He enrolled in the University of Minnesota as a business major, but ended up finding a job with the affiliated hospital collecting samples for diabetes research and helping in the cell isolation process. 
“Basically I get my greatest satisfaction and am most energized by building relationships and helping others,” he said. “These diabetes workshops are a great way to introduce much needed, life-changing awareness and self- managed care. They also build supportive relationships and groups are formed between the participants themselves.”
Mike recognizes the strength of the group’s connection.
“Over six weeks, we feel connected to each other as a peer group,” he continued. “We see the participants share ideas and support each other.  We witness communication skills improve among individuals, their caregivers and families. It is incredible to be a part of that.”
Mike stresses the impact of the classes on people who are both new to diabetes education and those who have been working on self-management for a while.  
“We see some people come in with little knowledge of their diabetes and the complications it can cause them, including the difference self-management tools can make to improve healthy eating, exercise, and communication with their care team,” he said. “We also see others come in with a great deal of knowledge, and they take their knowledge and apply it to these tools that are new to them.  These tools are powerful.”
Mike also noted that participants have told him how happy and relieved their physicians are in knowing that they are able to get comprehensive behavioral self-management guidance on healthy eating and exercise. He said most practices and clinical educators believe the classes are a great supplement to their own education.
Mike takes his EDC Peer Leadership seriously. He believes the workshops have a multiplier effect and everything that is learned is passed along to other people in patients’ lives.
Mike has received praise from his participants and special recognition from HQSI for his dedicated work. But the experience is what he finds most rewarding.
“My reward is the Peer Leading itself,” he said. “The results are real. I see it myself. I am there.  We are coming to the participants’ neighborhoods every week for six weeks, and it matters.  We make a difference.”
Supported locally by Healthcare Quality Strategies, Inc. (HQSI), Quality Insights Quality Innovation Network offers DSMP throughout New Jersey as part of the national Everyone with Diabetes Counts (EDC) project. If you are interested in learning more about the program, or getting trained to be a Peer Leader, please contact Jarmaine Williams at (732) 955-8168 or Visit this page to view a list of upcoming workshops.