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5/14/10: Emerson Hospital diabetes education program receives grant to enhance patient education

Emerson Hospital’s diabetes education program recently earned a three-year grant from Partners Community HealthCare, Inc. that will allow them to set up a mock grocery store at their outpatient location and will also provide funding for a therapist to offer group therapy twice per month.

A common challenge associated with diabetes includes difficulty with making proper food selection. Exposure to a grocery-store simulation will allow patients to see a variety of food items and then learn to make healthy choices.   “The grant will allow us to address grocery shopping as an adherence issue related to diabetes compliance,” said Cheryl Laundry, RN, BSN, CDE, diabetes educator at Emerson Hospital. “People have varied food tastes and report difficulty in selecting the proper choices when put in real-world food shopping situations.  Creating a ‘grocery store’ will allow patients the opportunity to compare labels, identify proper portions, and make healthy food choices.  Research indicates that patients who have problems selecting proper foods may have difficulty controlling their disease.”

The “grocery store” will be located within the Elizabeth Smith Agarwal Diabetes Center, located at Emerson Hospital’s Center for Specialty Care in Concord, Mass.  Shelving will be erected, and items will include a deluxe set of faux food as well as canned and boxed goods.  Less nutritious foods will be available to compare with healthier choices.  The grocery store will be used as part of medical nutrition therapy education by the registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator, and nutrition manager. Together, the clinical team will evaluate patients’ nutrition knowledge and label-reading skills.

The second component of the grant deals with therapy as a means to manage stress.  The grant will facilitate an outpatient discussion group led by a group therapist twice monthly. “We want to offer a forum for patients to discuss and deal with diabetes-related stressors,” said Laundry. “Elevated stress has a negative impact on adherence to diabetes therapies. Exploration of feelings associated with chronic illness on a regular basis in an emotionally supportive environment will decrease the risk of depression and also improve blood sugars.”

The grant will also foster continued partnerships between clinical teams at the hospital.  “One very exciting aspect of the grant is that the diabetes education program will be working in concert with nutrition services on the grocery store project and behavioral health with the therapy,” said Laundry.

Emerson Hospital’s diabetes self-management education program was awarded Education Recognition by the American Diabetes Association for providing high-quality education services to the patients it serves. Programs that achieve Recognition status have a team of knowledgeable health professionals who provide state-of-the-art information about diabetes management. The program was originally awarded this recognition in July 2002.

Emerson Hospital is a multi-site health system headquartered in Concord, Mass., with additional facilities in Sudbury, Groton, Westford, and Maynard.  The 179-bed hospital provides advanced medical services to more than 300,000 individuals in 25 towns.