Taking the diabetes fight to the people

Check, please: From left, South Nassau Community Hospital VP Ken Long, LICF Program Officer Mary Beth Guyther, LMSW Angelie Singla, South Nassau diabetes education director Lucille Hughes and one big check.

A philanthropic Long Island organization and one of the region’s largest hospitals are teaming up to create an innovative diabetes self-management program.

The Melville-based Long Island Community Foundation has awarded $50,000 to South Nassau Community Hospital, which the Oceanside healthcare hub will use to create and share the new diabetes-management protocol through its Family Medicine Center.

The program will teach patients with “poorly controlled diabetes” about the “lifestyle changes necessary to manage the condition” and prevent further complications including heart attack and stroke, the hospital said in a statement.

Managed by a bilingual certified diabetes educator, the Family Medicine Center’s diabetes self-management program will include seven weekly education classes of up to 20 patients each, focusing on topics including proper nutrition, medication adherence, insulin therapy and physical fitness, among other healthy-lifestyle topics.

Participants will also make individual appointments with the CDE to discuss professional care plans and schedule appointments with a range of ancillary specialists – including nutritionists, podiatrists and opticians – who can provide solutions to issues that could hinder a patient’s ability to self-manage a diabetes condition.

The idea is to improve diabetes education in several South Shore communities where the disease is endemic, noted South Nassau President and CEO Richard Murphy.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and prevention, more than 84,000 Nassau County residents – better than 6 percent of the entire 1.34 million population – have been diagnosed with some form of diabetes, which is “most prevalent” in several communities served by South Nassau, including Hempstead, Freeport and Roosevelt.

“This grant … will make a real difference in the day-to-day lives of our patients,” Murphy said.

The LICF chose to support South Nassau’s diabetes self-management effort because of the hospital’s sterling reputation for turning financial support into progressive healthcare, according to Community Foundation Executive Director David Okorn.

“We are proud to join South Nassau in its mission to meet the region’s need for quality healthcare services,” Okorn said in a statement. “The hospital is known for its judicious use of the charitable support it receives.”

That’s “an essential reason why LICF awarded a grant for this much-needed program,” Okorn added.

The Family Medicine Center, which accepts most health-insurance providers, provides “culturally sensitive multidisciplinary care” tailored to patient needs, according to South Nassau – from obstetrics and gynecology to geriatric and social services, including urgent care and preventive efforts like the new diabetes clinic.

The center is one of several distinct departments in the Magnet-designated hospital, which features 455 beds, more than 900 associated physicians 3,500 total employees. Among other professional designations, the acute-care teaching hospital is also a Level II Trauma Center and Comprehensive Community Cancer Center, as per the American College of Surgeons, and a New York State Department of Health-designated Stroke Center.

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