By Kimberly Freeman, RN, Diabetes Program, and Michael Hanlon, Diabetes Intervention
“Let’s get this done. I don’t want diabetes to win.” A powerful quote by Ann, a resident in McDowell County who’s taking control of her diabetes with the Taking Control of Type 2 (TCT2) Diabetes program. Her words symbolize the beginning of a journey toward successful self-management and improved quality of life after a life-altering diagnosis.
For a community that time and time again exceeds state and national averages for obesity, physical inactivity and diabetes, the need to collaborate to address this health crisis became inescapable. Who better to take on this challenge than Mission Hospital McDowell and the YMCA of Western North Carolina – two entities with the resources, expertise, innovation and passion when it comes to caring for the people of their community and improving their health? With a grant from Kate B. Reynolds, the TCT2 Diabetes program came to life.
With information, support and practical application facilitated by the lifestyle management expertise of the YMCA, the 28-session, 12-month program was designed to utilize an American Diabetes Association-recognized curriculum offered by clinicians in a group setting. When individuals are given enough time, accurate information and a safe space, they can achieve amazing things and are empowered to take control of their diabetes and prevention of complications.
There is a heavy emphasis on medical management at initial diagnosis, but the program’s approach focuses on balancing that with healthful eating and physical activity. The goal is achieving wellness and supporting the journey – individuals finding their way, making changes and decisions that result in effective self-management that is uniquely their own and sustainable.
“I make choices every day that I wouldn’t have made before,” Sim, a TCT2 participant, explains. “I have been through one-and-a-half years and the main thing that stuck is healthful eating. It has become a habit. My wife benefits, too!” Sim’s journey is one of many inspiring stories of individuals in the community who have experienced the very real struggles associated with a chronic disease, like diabetes, and who have made the life-altering decision to improve their health.
“Even my skin is better, and at 79, seeing folks younger than me having trouble inspires me to keep moving so I can do all of the things I enjoy,” says Sim.
The results of the TCT2 research study, which was published in Diabetes Educator, illustrate reductions in A1c and blood pressure, weight-loss averages of over 6 percent and elimination or decrease in medications associated with diabetes and cardiovascular health in over 56 percent of participants.
And even the community has noticed positive changes – restaurants are making changes to menus, offering healthier options, grocery stores are carrying requested items and there is greater use of green spaces. Relationships between primary care and healthcare teams and patients and the community have also benefitted, bringing more focus to wellness and patient engagement.
The TCT2 collaborative model of care produces a shared vision of supporting individuals resulting in self-empowerment and self-management of Type 2 diabetes. “Life does happen and I didn’t realize the toll it had taken,” says another participant, Cindy. “TCT2 gave me a reason to stop and do something for myself.”
Michael Hanlon is the director of Diabetes Interventions at YMCA of Western North Carolina.
Kimberly Freeman RN, CDE, CTTS, NBC-HWC, works in education and outreach in the diabetes program at Mission Hospital McDowell.