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Diabetes Resource Center Improves the Lives of Diabetes Patients

Southwest Georgia has some of the highest diabetes rates in the country. The Phoebe Diabetes Resource Center is working to lower those rates and make sure people with diabetes stay healthy.  “You don’t have to have a lifetime of complications,” said Heather O’Connor, Phoebe RN & Certified Diabetes Educator. “It’s all about how you manage your diabetes. People with diabetes can be just as healthy as those without diabetes, as long as they manage it well.”

In eight southwest Georgia counties, a staggering 13.66% of adults have been diagnosed with diabetes. That’s well above the national rate of 9.7%. Thousands more south Georgians are living with diabetes but don’t know it. “You may not know anything is happening until your blood sugar is so out of line that you have serious complications,” O’Connor said.

Click here to take a quick quiz developed by the American Diabetes Association. If it shows you are at increased risk for having type 2 diabetes, you should contact your primary care physician.  Phoebe Primary Care Physician Dr. Derek Heard said, “It’s extremely important for high risk patients to talk to their physicians and get tested for diabetes. The sooner a patient is diagnosed, the sooner he or she can make lifestyle changes to help avoid potentially life-threatening complications.”

Dr. Heard also stressed the high cost of treating diabetes, both for individual patients and our healthcare system as a whole. “The largest financial impact is on those who poorly control the illness,” Heard said. “Those who don’t catch the disease early and follow up with their physician on a regular basis will incur high costs related to medication and treatment of complications.”

The Diabetes Resource Center’s educators work with physicians to put together individual care plans for all the patients they serve. “We teach patients everything they need to know about diabetes.  What it is, why it won’t go away, exercises they can do,” O’Connor said. “We help them with meal planning and medication management, fears and concerns.”

A typical patient will meet with the center’s team members anywhere from two to eight times. Medicare and most insurance plans will pay for most of those sessions. The center also leads community outreach efforts to educate people about risk factors and symptoms of diabetes.

Visit Phoebe's Diabetes Resource Center online to learn much more about diabetes and the services offered by the center. If you need helping finding a primary care physician to talk to about diabetes, go to