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Diabetes Awareness Month at SLVH

November is Diabetes Awareness Month and San Luis Valley Health wants to promote our amazing diabetes education team, otherwise known as DEEP. 

DEEP stands for Diabetes Education and Empowerment Program and is staffed by educators Dawn Arellano, Registered Nurse, and Megan Brownell, Registered Dietitian. Both are also Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialists (CDCES). Once referred by a primary care provider, diabetes educators become part of a patient’s healthcare team, coaching and guiding individuals living with diabetes to develop the skills and knowledge needed to successfully manage diabetes throughout life. 

DEEP is the only accredited diabetes education program in the San Luis Valley, and Arellano states that’s why she chose to join the team. “There is such prevalence of diabetes in the Valley. I became an educator after seeing the need and understand the value of diabetes self-management education and support.” 

The program offers a wide range of services including, but not limited to: classes, nutrition consults, gestational diabetes education, medication and insulin management, and continuous glucose monitor support as well as newer diabetes technologies. All these services can lead to improved diabetes management resulting in higher quality of life and fewer health complications.  

Brownell wants to emphasize to potential patients that the program is here to help. “It’s not a one-and-done service. This program is here to support diabetes patients for life.” 

DEEP is effective. Arellano and Brownell closely track their patients’ clinical outcomes to measure the impact of diabetes education. This includes labs like the Hemoglobin A1c, which is one indicator of a person’s diabetes control. A1c tracking data shows participating with DEEP can lower A1c levels an average of 2%, from 9.1% to 7.0%. 

The American Diabetes Association recommends an A1c of 7.0% or less for most patients with diabetes as a lower A1c is proven to reduce risk of diabetes related complications from diabetes like kidney damage and stroke. 

According to the paper, Diabetes Self-Management Education and Support, there are four important stages to seek help from diabetes educators: when first diagnosed, annual assessment, when new complicating factors arise, and when there are transitions in care.  

SLV Health primary care provider, Susannah Perkins, DO, said her patients routinely praise the team. “Dawn and Megan are a part of our comprehensive treatment team here. I consider them my colleagues in diabetic care and I often refer and defer to them because they know more than I do. It is wonderful to have diabetic specialists in the Valley considering that referring to Endocrinology means a trip over a mountain,” commented Perkins. 

DEEP offers its services to anyone over the age of 18, in both English and Spanish. Ask your primary care provider for a referral to the program.