Brookwood Baptist Health Blog

Stories and tips for a healthy lifestyle


Sep 24, 2015
What You Need to Know - Diabetes

Diabetes affects more than 9% of people in the United States and the numbers are growing. For those affected by the disease, life for the newly diagnosed can seem overwhelming with all the life changes, new dietary requirements, new medicines , and a substantial list of do’s and don’ts to remember.

At Brookwood Baptist Health, our job is to make sure each patient is armed with the education they need after diagnosis, so they can stay healthy. That’s why we started our accredited Diabetes Self-Management Education courses. We spoke with Debrah Fisher, BBH’s Diabetes Education Program Manager and Diabetes Coordinator, and Dr. Tom Milko, Medical Director for population health management and primary care innovation, to better understand the program.

So what is diabetes education?

Simply put, diabetes education helps people understand their diabetes and how to best live with it. There are plenty of misconceptions surrounding the disease and diabetes education helps set the record straight, and help patients live longer, happier lives.

Diabetes is complex, so it has to be managed every day. This program helps patients know how to eat, exercise, and manage their disease. In addition to that, diabetes education helps patients determine their health goals, and gives them tools to achieve their goals and improve their health.

Our program is one of the few accredited programs in Alabama, a state with an alarmingly high rate of diabetes. Studies on accredited diabetes education programs have shown that those who participate often have lower medical costs and better health outcomes than those who don’t participate.

What is involved in the program?

Diabetes education starts with a one and a half hour individual education session with Debrah Fisher. This education session consists of a discussion about the patient’s history, daily activities, and any goals the patient hopes to achieve. Then, Fisher will develop a custom education plan for their needs.

After the individual meeting, the program continues with group courses. BBH currently offers courses at Citizens, Shelby, Princeton, Walker, Gardendale, and Hoover facilities. Group classes normally have six to eight participants and are two hours in length. The curriculum focuses on nine specific areas:

  • An overview of diabetes – what it is, what diabetes does to your body, and how medications can help
  • Diabetic specific nutrition – how to count carbs and figure out what is and isn’t good for you
  • Physical activity – how to exercise and improve your physical health
  • Medications – what medications are available and how to administer them
  • How to monitor your diabetes – including how to prick your finger, monitor your blood sugar, when to test, and what those results may mean
  • How to deal with certain results – including what to do with low/high blood sugar
  • Chronic complications – including eye disease, blindness, kidney disease leading to dialysis, chronic problems with wound healing, vascular disease, strokes and heart attack
  • How to deal with stress – stress can affect blood sugar, so learning how to cope with stress and build support systems for doing so will be discussed
  • Changing behavior – how permanent lifestyle changes can have a huge impact on health