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Building relationships for diabetes care


By Colleen Karper, RN, BSN, CDE

The Diabetes Education and Prevention Program at Kalispell Regional Healthcare (KRH) is an American Diabetes Association recognized program located in magnificent northwest Montana. The program was initially recognized in 2001. At the time we had two part-time diabetes educators sharing a small office in the hospital. Over the years we have grown to include two full-time registered dietitian educators and two full-time registered nurse educators. We also have recently added a part-time registered dietitian educator to serve our pediatric endocrinology clients. Our diabetes education/prevention service area ranges over an approximately 18,700-square-mile region inclusive of the five main counties where we provide outreach. In addition to our primary site, we have two multisites and four expansion sites in order to reach this unique frontier population.

Using the American Association of Diabetes Educators’ AADE7 self-care behaviors as a guide, we offer individual and group diabetes self-management education sessions. Each patient receives individualized education that best fits their lifestyle and goals. Patients are able to follow up regularly with one of our five diabetes educators, developing trusted health care relationships along the way.

The Lifestyle Balance Program is the national diabetes prevention program that we offer twice a year. This is a 12-month program and is grant funded through the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services. Participants receive lifestyle change education and resources to help them lose weight, increase activity and prevent diabetes. All diabetes prevention instructors hold Health and Wellness Coach Certification through Wellcoaches Corporation.

In order to reach the frontier areas of our region, the diabetes education and prevention program is embracing the use of telehealth technology. These services have expanded greatly within the last year. Diabetes self-management education is now provided to four sites throughout western and central Montana. The Lifestyle Balance Program is offered via telehealth to a facility in Plains, Montana. By developing relationships with rural access hospitals in these small communities, with the use of telehealth technology more than 40 patients have been served.

Additionally, we are offering a monthly diabetes cooking club and support group in collaboration with a local grocer. We are caring for patients diagnosed with gestational diabetes and pre-existing diabetes in pregnancy through a close partnership with the Montana Perinatal Center. We have been offering insulin pump and continuous glucose sensor training and follow-up. We provide inpatient diabetes education at Kalispell Regional Medical Center as requested. In 2017 we plan to add a 12-week diabetes weight loss class and a young adult support group.

Our program staff demonstrates an ongoing desire and ability to develop partnerships that extend our expertise and programs into different settings in order to improve patient access to diabetes care and the opportunity to learn the skills needed to manage or prevent diabetes. We also strive to enhance our staff experience by giving them new opportunities to be creative and develop their professional and technical skills. We will continue striving to support our mission to improve the health, comfort and life of people with diabetes and those at risk for diabetes.

Learn more about Diabetes Education and Prevention.

Thanks to all of the diabetes educators at KRH for their contributions to this article.