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. 

Sisters Supporting One Another in a Journey to Improve their Health

Eva and KatharinaTwo New Jersey sisters have a strong hereditary history of diabetes that has affected them and their family for years.

“The hardest thing we ever went through in our lives was watching our mother go through toe amputations,” the sisters gloomily stated. “It was so painful that even morphine did not take away the phantom pain.”
EDC LogoKatharina has Type 2 diabetes and Eva has prediabetes. They love going to Atlantic City with their church group and walking around the boardwalk and also enjoy doing puzzles, running bingo at their senior center, and volunteering. They are always looking for new ways to stay active.

While at their senior center in Trenton, NJ, Katharina and Eva found out about free diabetes workshops that were scheduled once a week for six weeks. They attended. The two instructors – known as Peer Leaders – who facilitated the workshops, let the participants know the Diabetes Self-Management Program (DSMP) was developed at Stanford University. During the six weeks, the workshop participants would learn about diabetes self-management, tools they can use, share stories and knowledge, and make friends among themselves.

Eva holds a certificate of completion from the EDC program.
The workshops explain the importance of monitoring blood sugar and keeping levels at a good and healthy range.

“You have to figure out a way to not make it go too high or too low,” Katharina said, referring to her blood sugar.

The sisters learned about the balance of monitoring, healthy eating, exercise, and medications. Moreover, Katharina and Eva now understand how critical it is to manage the number of carbohydrates eaten in a meal and to not go overboard. They said they have been eating healthier and loving different types of salads.

“Keep moving,” Eva said. “That’s the big thing – exercise.”

The sisters have been walking regularly and feel great.

Katharina holds a certificate of completion from the EDC program.
Additionally, Katharina and Eva learned that stress raises blood sugar, so they have started to implement some of the tools taught in the workshops. For example, guided imagery is a technique used in the workshops to help manage stress, tension, discomfort and other symptoms. This can help achieve deep relaxation by transporting participants to a relaxing place in the mind. The sisters received a complimentary book, Living a Healthy Life with Chronic Conditions, for being a part of the workshops, which includes a guided imagery script.

“When we get stressed, we sit down, close our eyes, and think of a meadow or an open field with a swinging gate,” they said.

Katharina and Eva admitted the technique helps them “just chill out.”  

“Think of something good and forgetting what’s on your mind. It’ll be okay,” Katharina smiled.

They now are able to teach others how to relax as well, which gives them joy.

Positive thinking is another technique taught in the workshops, and the sisters proudly acknowledged that they both have a more positive outlook on life as a result of this program.

Although the sisters cannot change their family history, Eva said she understands diabetes more deeply along with ways that she can help herself and her sister. It was beneficial for her to learn what can be controlled and managed. Katharina also said she feels more in control of her health and life.

As a result of the workshops, the sisters are able to live healthier, happier lives together. They would recommend this program to other seniors that have diabetes, and caregivers.

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. Anyone interested in learning more about the program, hosting a workshop, or becoming a Peer Leader to co-facilitate the program can contact Jarmaine Williams at (732) 955-8168 or