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November 20th, 2019

Methodist Hospitals diabetes prevention program works for its employees

Courtesy of The Gary 411 • November 20, 2019

Program has been performed at senior citizens and veterans residential facilities

When Methodist Hospitals Diabetes Center repeated the Centers for Disease Control study of the effects of lifestyle changes on diabetes prevention using the hospitals own employees as subjects, their results matched or surpassed some of the CDC’s outcomes.

In the CDC study, lifestyle changes focusing on healthy eating and physical activity showed that people with prediabetes can cut their risk of developing Type-2 diabetes by 58% and by 71% for people over 60 years old. Medications to control diabetes were not used.

Twenty-three employees with prediabetes or at a high risk for T2 diabetes who successfully completed the year-long study were recognized by Methodist Hospital’s CEO & President Raymond Grady. “If we want to improve the health of our community, we can’t wait for them to come to the hospital,” Grady said. “Now that you’ve set a leadership standard with your own success, we want you to become ambassadors for employees and in the community to get them involved.”

This wasn’t the Diabetes Center’s first success said Carol Sakelaris, RN, the hospitals’ Certified Diabetes Education Master and Lifestyle Trainer. The study has been performed at senior citizens and veterans residential facilities in Gary and Merrillville.

The Diabetes Center’s Prevent T2 Lifestyle Change Program is a year-long course.

The first six months consisted of weekly meetings, teaching strategies that helped participants set goals, track eating, record physical activities, assess progress, and solve problems. The second six months consisted of monthly maintenance meetings that helped participants stay on target, addressed their various challenges, and offered solutions.

Like the CDC, participants met goals of 5-7% weight loss and 150 minutes per week of exercise. The hospitals employees exceeded the CDC’s weight loss goals. Michael Toliber attended the class with his wife, hospital employee Lillie Toliber. Michael lost 27 pounds.

A key indicator in diabetes prevention for class participants in warding off T2 diabetes was their A1C levels. The A1C test is a look at the 3-month life of red blood cells in the body. It tells the level of blood sugar or glucose attached to the red blood cell. High levels of glucose can predict the onset of diabetes. A normal A1C level of blood sugar is below 5.7 percent.

Sessions included lessons on healthy eating with cooking classes, and instructions on diet and nutrition.

The success of the employees’ diabetes prevention program was participant led. They had a desire to change lifestyles and were committed to avoid living with diabetes. The class was held at their convenience. And, the employees could bring a family member.

Also important to the program’s success, Sakelaris said, is the class instructor or life coach. When the CDC began allowing non-clinical life coaches – instructors without a medical background – she recruited LaTanya Woodson, Manager of Community Outreach at the Northlake Campus. Sakelaris taught the class at the Southlake Campus; Woodson at Northlake. “The coach must be energetic and have empathy. LaTanya had the potential. So she went and took the training course.”

Woodson said one-third of hospital employees are prediabetic. She was once among that number. “My weight was close to 190 pounds and my health was failing. I had to do something.” Woodson has lost 35 pounds.

Methodist is the only hospital in northern Indiana, and only one of three Indiana hospitals with a CDC National Recognized Diabetes Prevention Program.

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