Q & A with Diabetes Educator

Christine Pospsil, R.D., diabetes educator at Diabetes America has more than seven years experience as a registered nurse and dietician. She has combined her certifications in diabetes education and adult weight management to empower her patients to make lifestyle changes and to meet their weight loss goals. Pospsil spoke with Home Health Products about educating your customers about caring for their diabetes, especially when traveling.

Please tell me about Diabetes America.

There are seven locations in Houston, two in the Dallas Fort Worth area and one in Corpus Christi and one in San Antonio. We are diabetes specialists and we have between 7,000 and 9,000 total patients. We do, however, encourage patients to keep their primary care physicians.

What are the precautions people with diabetes need to take when traveling on vacation?

Make sure they are prepared. Prior to leaving, get a medical check-up. We don't want them traveling before they get a check-up and end up getting sick while they are there. Their doctor can check to make sure they have the right medication or make adjustments to their current medications if necessary. We want them to have an enjoyable vacation. They should bring a list of current medications, the timing of medications, and a letter from doctor.

What else should they bring?

  • Extra supply of insulin and or oral medication if needed
  • Extra supply of needles
  • Fast acting sugar to treat if they have low blood sugar
  • Urine keytone testing strips ? for people with Type 1
  • Sunblock
  • Insect repellant
  • Comfortable walking shoes and/or diabetic footwear
  • Telephone numbers of heath care team/physicians
  • A glucometer and testing supplies
  • Patient need to know how to be prepared in case they get sick. Strange food can make them sick. They need to know what to do to manage their blood sugar. Sometimes that means bringing a snack in case they experience hypoglycemia or their blood sugar goes too low. People need to consider time zone adjustments if they are on insulin, for example.

    How do you encourage your patients to make lifestyle changes?

    A diagnosis of diabetes can wake people up. The majority of the American public does not wish to be on any medication. We would want to work alongside that. We can work on all aspects: lifestyle changes, diet and exercise. We can decrease their medications if they get to target blood/sugar control based on the A1/c three-month average. We talk to them a lot about lifestyle changes. We have all different scenarios that walk into our clinic everyday: people that know they have it, or think they have it, people who come in for screening and find they have a very critical blood sugar level. Changing their diet can help. Some patients think "If I have to give up bread I am going to die." So we start with educating them about what carbs can do to their body. Then there are people who change everything instantly. We talk to patients about what their future looks like if they incorporate changes in diet and exercise.

    What are some of the trends you are seeing?

    We only see patients over the age 18, but people are being diagnosed at younger and younger ages.

    How do you receive referrals and how do you work with HME stores?

    We see people from all different insurance companies. We order insulin pumps and glucometers and we have places that we refer them to. We choose the right glucometer for the patient and make sure they know how to use it.

    This article originally appeared in the July 2007 issue of HME Business.

    HME Business Podcast