New diabetes program responds to “crisis”

BY ANGELA BROWN News Staff – Glengarry residents seeking support for diabetes-related health issues can turn to the Centre de sante communautaire de l’Estrie in Alexandria and the Nurse-Practitioner Led Clinic in Lancaster for support. While the Centre de sante focuses its services on the francophone community, it offers its diabetes program for both French-language and English-speaking resi-dents.

Diabetes Education program manager Charles Dupont notes the organization’s new signage was installed on Main Street in Alexandria recently to pro-mote the program and direct potential clients to the clinic on Industrial Boulevard.

Its diabetes prevention program team, comprised of a nurse and dietician, offers diabetes education and case management advice.

“They will work with the client and his or her family doctor to make sure the client understands the impact of nutrition on diabetes,” says Mr. Dupont.

The team will look at the impact of nutrition, how to calculate sugar content in one’s diet and examine how exercise affects an individual’s diabetes, and can recommend making insulin adjustments if necessary, all in conjunction with the family doctor.

“Diabetes is the number 1 health crisis, according to a number of organizations, so it’s important people address their diabetes risks,” says Mr. Dupont, adding complications from diabetes can be extremely severen and may include possible limb amputation or loss of sight.

Centre de sante communautaire de l’Estrie receives funding for its program through the Champlain Local Health Integration Network (LHIN). People can visit the Centre by making an appointment and don’t need a physician referral.

The Glengarry Nurse-Practitioner Led Clinic also has a diabetes program offered jointly with Cornwall Community Hospital.

The clinic’s team collaborates with the hospital’s diabetic specialists to offer a complex diabetes clinic once a month, supporting clients who are dealing with diabetes that may be difficult to manage.

“It’s to provide their clients and our clients with access to specialized one-to-one support, resources, information and medical care,” says executive director Penelope Smith. “We have seen the program grow.”

The Cornwall hospital’s team consists of a registered diabetic specialist nurse, and a registered dietician with specialty training working with the clinic’s team of nurse practitioners, a registered dietician and a social worker.

“The idea is to bring these specialists to the commu-nity here rather than having clients commute to Cornwall,” says Ms. Smith.

The service was offered for half a day at first but soon expanded to a complete day program because it was so popular.

“The whole intention is to reduce the likelihood of any diabetic-related complication. Research demon-strates healthy nutritional habits, having an active lifestyle and collaborating with your primary-care provider are great ways to prevent diabetes,” Ms. Smith says.

Champlain LHIN chief executive officer Chantale LeClerc notes about nine per cent of the population in the region, or about 1.2 million people, is diabetic: “That’s a lot of people in our region who have dia-betes.”

She adds diabetes rates are growing, too, noting the portion :of the region that has higher rates includes Glengarry:

Risk factors

There are also a large number of people living with pre-diabetes who have elevated blood sugars who are at risk of developing diabetes.

The high incidence of the disease is linked to risk factors, including smoking, obesity, and lack of exercise, that are also higher for those living in parts of the Champlain region.

For the last several years the Champlain LHIN has been expanding its types of programs and services available to people with diabetes. Ms. LeClerc says by helping people with diabetes reduce their complica-tions the LHIN not only helps clients directly but helps reduce the costs to healthcare down the road also. “If we identify them early we can intervene more quickly, and help them connect with services,” adds Ms. LeClerc.

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