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Dr. Melanie Menning, Family Practice Physician, demonstrates the Dexcom G6, a Continuous Glucose Monitoring device. / Dr. Melanie Menning, Médica de Familia, demuestra el Dexcom G6, un dispositivo de Monitoreo Continuo de Glucosa.

OneWorld Diabetes Educators help patients control and maintain their diabetes

Choices are often rarities when receiving treatment for a chronic medical condition. When patients receive their diagnosis, the limitations can feel overwhelming. For patients with diabetes, OneWorld Community Health Centers’ team of Diabetes Educators offers a variety of resources, classes and treatment options because having choices matters.

“Everyone’s path is different. We will inform you about the available options, and work with you to help you gain and maintain control of your diabetes in a way that is realistic for your life,” said Karen McClelland, BSN, RN, CDCES, Manager of Diabetes Education and Nutrition Services.

Diabetes occurs when a person’s blood glucose, or blood sugar, is too high according to the National Institute of Health. If left uncontrolled, complications including kidney disease, heart disease, nerve damage and more can arise.

Monitoring blood sugar is an important piece of diabetes treatment. For years, patients have done this by pricking their fingers with lancets, sometimes multiple times a day, to check their blood sugar.

“As someone who has type 2 diabetes, I can tell you it’s not fun to poke your fingers, and our patients don’t tend to like it either,” said Karen. “We do it because we want to know how our bodies are doing. But if there’s an easier, better way, we want to offer those options to patients as well.”

Enter Continuous Glucose Monitoring. To use this technology, a patient applies a sensor onto their body, typically the arm or stomach, and wears it for 10 or 14 days. The sensor reads their interstitial fluid in real-time so patients can directly see the effects of their lifestyle choices on their glucose levels.

Initially, two Freestyle Libre sensors, a 28-day supply, cost $131, which is cost prohibitive for many OneWorld patients. However, with research, our Diabetes Educators, formally known as Certified Diabetes Care & Education Specialists, found a way to cut the cost nearly in half.

Freestyle Libre 2 Applicator and Sensor

“In the past, CGM was expensive and was for the few. Now, we’re making it available for our people, regardless of insurance status, and they get to decide if they want CGM. It’s not necessary to have CGM to have your diabetes under control, but it’s another tool that we have in our toolbox to help our people.” said Karen.

In September 2021, the Diabetes Educators pursued the Dexcom G6 CGM based on an increase in interest from patients and requests from OneWorld providers at the West clinic.

The Dexcom G6 CGM is currently only affordable for insured patients, but the Diabetes Educators team is working with Diabetes Supply to determine insurance coverage of CGM and patient cost, if any. This collaboration will make CGM easier for patients with Medicare and Medicaid to access as well.

Dexcom G6 Transmitter and Applicator

“All of our Diabetes Educators have worn the Freestyle Libre and the Dexcom G6 so we have that first-hand experience and can provide better education for our patients,” said Karen.

Aside from glucose monitoring, education about diabetes and nutrition are vital pieces of a treatment plan. OneWorld offers several programs and classes to help patients learn about how they can control their diabetes including individual appointments, nutrition counseling and case management.

Dominate Diabetes workshops are available for OneWorld patients in English and Spanish on Saturdays. Patients, and a family member or friend, can learn the basics about diabetes, exercise, nutrition, medication options, coping skills and goal setting.

In clinic, providers and patients can request a consultation with a Diabetes Educator for no charge. This service is available in person at the Livestock Exchange Health Campus, or telehealth at our satellite clinics.

During a consultation, Diabetes Educators consult with patients about their symptoms, treatment options and even offer demonstrations for using glucose monitors and injecting insulin so patients can safely and independently use the tools or medications.

To help patients afford their medications, our Diabetes Educators work with the OneWorld Pharmacy that offers 340B pricing discount. When patients are uninsured, patients can also apply for the Medication Assistance Program to afford their medications.

Karen recently assisted an uninsured OneWorld patient with uncontrolled diabetes who had suffered a heart attack. The consultation initially was about applying for MAP to use Trulicity, a medication for diabetes. When the patient asked about using MAP for the medication he was prescribed after his heart attack, Karen called the pharmacy right away.

The patient left the OneWorld campus able to afford both medications. Through MAP, Trulicity was around $25 for a 3-month supply versus over $200 per month. With the pharmacy’s reduced pricing, his heart medication, nearly $400 a month elsewhere, was under $20 a month.

“I remember looking at his face, and it made me so happy to share that information with him, because it seemed to mean so much to him,” said Karen. “It’s about figuring out what we can do to help people protect themselves, their health, their future and their family.”

To learn more about OneWorld diabetes programs, click here.

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