| Dec 17, 2009

Back to HomeFeature Article - December 17, 2009 Rural Diabetes servicesby Jeff Green

Years ago, the Ministry of Health determined that the gaps in public knowledge about the causes, impacts, and treatment for Diabetes had to be addressed.

In 2002, Hotel Dieu Hospital in Kingston augmented their Diabetes Education and Management Centre by adding a rural component. In partnership with the Rural Kingston Health Network (now called the Rural Family Health Organization) they provide outreach services to family clinics in Frontenac County.

Anne MacDonald was hired as a dietitian in 2002, and along with the nurses from the family clinics in Sydenham, Verona and Sharbot Lake, the Frontenac Diabetes Education program has been offered in the three clinics ever since.

(This past July the Sharbot Lake service was taken in-house as part of the Family Health Team designation of that clinic.)

“When I first started working, I was seeing two or three people a day in the rural clinics, and the numbers were up and down,” said Anne MacDonald, “but the demand is very steady now. I’m booked all day. I think the increase is due partly to the program being established now and to the increased incidence of Diabetes.”

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At the clinics in Verona and Sydenham, referrals come from the family practitioner. Most of the patients are people who have pre-diabetes or Type 2 Diabetes. By working with a nurse and a dietician, patients are presented with lifestyle change options that can help them to keep from developing the condition or to manage it if they already have Diabetes.

The Diabetes Education and Management Centre at Hotel Dieu provides background support for the Frontenac program as providing extensive service throughout the City of Kingston.

The Frontenac program serves approximately 500 patients a year, and other residents of Frontenac County access service at the Hotel Dieu service directly. There is another component to the Frontenac Diabetes Education Program that MacDonald would like to enhance: public education.

She runs three to four group classes each year in Sydenham and Verona, with as many as 10 people in each class, and would be happy to run more classes if the demand is there.

“The classes tend to be fairly informal, and help people see that lifestyle changes can make a difference. Our goal is to help people make their own plan, something they can take charge of,” said MacDonald

Participants are asked to bring a lunch. The classes start at 9AM, and go until mid-afternoon. Then there is a follow-up session a month later. The lunch serves two purposes. The classes run for five hours so participants will get hungry, and the makeup of the lunches helps with the education as well.

Making changes to diet and exercise levels can be difficult to maintain, and that is why the education program is not about handing people a list of foods they should eat and exercises they should do.

“It is important to work with people over time so they can manage Diabetes and its effects,” said Anne MacDonald.

For information about the Frontenac Diabetes Education Program, contact Anne MacDonald at 613-544-3400, Ext – 3589.

A similar program serving Lennox and Addington County is administered through the Lennox and Addington General Hospital, which provides service at the Northbrook Lion’s Hall once a month on a Tuesday.

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