Diabetes Care, One Patient at a Time
By Lily Tung Crystal
More than 26 million Americans suffer from diabetes. While the disease can be challenging to control, patients can succeed when given the right support.
That’s why CPMC founded the Center for Diabetes Services at the California campus and the St. Luke’s Diabetes Center. “We noticed that too many people were coming into the ER with out-of-control diabetes,” recalls Sylvia Recinos, R.N., CDE, a certified diabetes educator at St. Luke’s. “They weren’t being educated about their disease and kept coming back with serious complications.”
Through classes and regular one-on-one appointments, the CPMC staff creates a nutrition plan for patients; teaches them how to carbohydrate count, check their blood sugar, and administer insulin; making sure patients maintain their care. It helps patients place insulin pumps and helps them monitor and adjust the settings.
The program has helped change the lives of people like Jesse Foster, a singer, voice teacher and music educator in San Francisco who was diagnosed with Type 1 as a young adult. Struggling to manage his diabetes, Jesse came to the Center for Diabetes Services. Certified diabetes educator Leah Chapnick, R.N., CDE, worked with him to find an insulin pump and continuous glucose monitor to help control his diabetes.
In addition to regular meter testing, patients can wear a small round-the-clock device that monitors blood sugar every few minutes and sets off an alarm if sugar levels are too low or too high. It also stores data that the staff can later use to adjust their patient’s program. Because of Jesse’s inconsistent work schedule, seeing students through the day, his continuous glucose monitor helps him track his sugars while he’s teaching.
Every three to six months, he also goes to the center’s Monday clinic, where patients can see their endocrinologist, nurse and dietician all in one easy appointment. He’s found a community in the center’s Diabetes Support Group, giving patients the chance to share their experiences. “It’s nice to have an organized group that I can rely on, and to know that there are other people who have the same issues,” he muses.
Jesse says that he has never experienced anything like CPMC. “It’s rare that you get that type of support,” Jesse insists. “You come in; they reach out to you; they always know what’s going on with you. Since seeing the people at CPMC, I’ve felt tremendously better. It’s been vital to my health.” It has also helped Jesse manage his diabetes so that he can do what he was always meant to do—share music with the world and educate a new generation of singers.
A Second Home
Magaly Castillo walks half a block from her apartment to the place she calls her second home—the St. Luke’s Diabetes Center.
Three years ago, Magaly discovered that she had Type 2 diabetes. The disease, accounts for 90 percent of all diabetes cases. When she turned to the St. Luke’s staff for help, they taught her how to manage her diabetes and gave her much needed emotional support. “They cared about me and comforted me when I didn’t know much about the disease,” Magaly recalls. She feels like she can drop in anytime to find assistance.
Magaly has also found a community through St. Luke’s “Move to Improve” weekly exercise class geared for diabetics. She and her classmates often have lunch together and explore the neighborhood. Additionally, she walks around her Mission community raising money for diabetes prevention, combining her fundraising activity with her doctor-recommended walking regimen.
That family feeling at St. Luke’s is based on trust. Sylvia says, “Our staff is dedicated to making sure each individual patient’s needs are addressed in a way that has incorporated everything that’s part of them – financial concerns, family issues, even cultural traditions.” St. Luke’s is committed to serving the particular needs of its Mission District community.
Because of that personal care, Magaly is controlling her diabetes well. “St. Luke’s has changed my life completely,” says Magaly. “I give thanks to this hospital, every day.”
For more information on diabetes services at CPMC visit, cpmc.org/diabetes.