Saturday, July 26, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Philly vs. Diabetes

Innovative resources around the region

STATEWIDE: EXPEDITED EYE CARE
Diabetic retinopathy, an eye disease that’s common among people with diabetes, is the No. 1 cause of blindness in working-age adults.

To combat it, 250 eye doctors across the state have signed on with the Pennsylvania Academy of Ophthalmology FastTrack program. All promise to schedule at-risk patients for dilated eye exams within one week — about a quarter of the usual wait time in some busy ophthalmology practices.

Nearly half of all people with diabetes have some stage of retinopathy — often with no symptoms, the academy says. Early detection and treatment can prevent vision loss.

Diabetics or their doctors can call 717-558-7750, x-1518 for details on making a FastTrack appointment.


1. A NUMBERS REVELATION
Members of Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church are routinely being urged to find out what their blood glucose level is — both during “medical moments” presented from the pulpit during Sunday services and at visits to their in-church health clinic.

It’s one of several targeted health “numbers” in the church’s Know Your Numbers campaign. And it’s one that hits home with Enon’s senior pastor, the Rev. Alyn E. Waller. “My entire family of origin has diabetes, except me,” he says.

In addition to the numbers effort, his megachurch encourages exercise, with a 1/4-mile indoor-walking circuit that’s open to members and to nonmembers who live nearby. Enon is now forming a walking program specifically for people with diabetes.

Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church, 
2800 W. Cheltenham Ave., 215-276-7200.


2. TONING WITH 
THE OLDIES
Senior citizens enrolled in several popular Medicare Advantage plans can exercise free through Silver Sneakers programs at many local gyms and community centers, including the Holy Redeemer Hospital gym shown at left below — which conveniently has a space set aside where diabetic exercisers can take their blood glucose readings beforehand.

A study published last year in the journal Diabetes Care showed that Sneakers regulars with diabetes were hospitalized less often than other seniors with diabetes.

Visit silversneakers.com for details on which Medicare Advantage plans participate and to find a gym or exercise class near you.


3. TYPE 1 CENTRAL
As a specialist in diabetes education for patients on intensive insulin therapy, mostly those with Type 1, Wynnewood’s Integrated Diabetes Services has a roster of fee-for-services clients that spans the globe, ranging as far afield as Australia.

IDS also runs a quarterly “Diabetes Tech” support group for local patients who use insulin pumps or take multiple daily injections. (Next meeting: Dec. 2 at 7:30 p.m.) In addition, a small retail shop in the waiting room is a regional boutique for accessories like waterproof insulin-pump pouches and slim insulin “wallets” to keep the medicine cool in hot weather.

Integrated Diabetes Services, 333 E. Lancaster Ave., Wynnewood, 877-735-3648. IDS also sells gear online at www.integrateddiabetes.com.


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  • 4. MOBILE CARB COUNTER
    Alice Necci, of Alice’s Food Shopping Service, purchases and delivers groceries for the homebound, charging about $25 a shopping trip (plus the cost of the groceries) to gather, deliver and unpack all the foods on a client’s list.

    Necci consults with her diabetic clients’ dietitians — “If they don’t have a dietitian, I make sure they get one,” she says — and scours nutrition labels at the store accordingly. The Philadelphia Corporation for Aging and other agencies have sent clients her way for 20 years.

    Serving neighborhoods in Northeast Philadelphia, 215-677-6183.


    5. STRIKE ONE UP FOR WELLNESS?
    District Council 33 union headquarters in West Philly is one of the more unconventional sites around town for diabetes self-management education classes certified by the American Diabetes Association.

    The Philadelphia School District administration building on North Broad Street is another.

    Both sites are part of mountain-to-Mohammad effort to increase attendance in these intensive crash courses in medicine, monitors, diet, exercise and more.

    Studies show that students who receive self-management education go on to control their blood sugar better than other patients — an important factor in avoiding medical complications — but the ADA says that only perhaps a third of diabetics enroll.

    For a full list of ADA-recognized classes in the eight-county Philadelphia region, mostly at hospitals, visit philly.com/
diabetes. A local firm called Achieving Better Control Inc. (215-283-2833), which leads the classes at the union and the School District, will travel to sites where a sponsor can assemble at least 15 diabetic students.


    6. COMPUTER-ASSISTED 
FOOT CARE
    Some patients with diabetic nerve damage don’t feel a thing — and that’s a problem. Cuts and ulcers on their feet that they aren’t aware of can become infected, potentially leading to amputation.

    A high-tech walkway at the Temple University Gait Study Center helps them see what they can’t feel. Pressure sensors pinpoint potential trouble spots, which show up as sharp red spikes on a computer-generated “pressure map” of their feet.

    In new research funded by the National Institutes of Health, Temple’s School of Podiatric Medicine is studying whether the pressure maps and other personalized attention can help patients manage their diabetes better and, ideally, prevent complications.

    Study leader Jinsup Song hopes to enroll 260 participants. All will receive a year of free diabetic foot care.

    Gait Study Center, Temple School of Podiatric Medicine, 8th and Race streets, 215-625-5365.

    Some patients with diabetic nerve damage don’t feel a thing — and that’s a problem. Cuts and ulcers on their feet that they aren’t aware of can become infected, potentially leading to amputation.

    A high-tech walkway at the Temple University Gait Study Center helps them see what they can’t feel. Pressure sensors pinpoint potential trouble spots, which show up as sharp red spikes on a computer-generated “pressure map” of their feet.

    In new research funded by the National Institutes of Health, Temple’s School of Podiatric Medicine is studying whether the pressure maps and other personalized attention can help patients manage their diabetes better and, ideally, prevent complications.

    Study leader Jinsup Song hopes to enroll 260 participants. All will receive a year of free diabetic foot care.

    Gait Study Center, Temple School of Podiatric Medicine, 8th and Race streets, 215-625-5365.


    7. SPECIAL NEEDS MET HERE
    Pennsylvania Hospital’s Diabetes Education Center offers a customized class for pregnant women with diabetes, another custom program for pregnant Latinas with diabetes, and a third for the caregivers of mentally disabled adults with diabetes.

    Why slice the pie so thinly?

    For pregnant women, the potential complications from diabetes can be especially dire, including stillbirths. “There’s no wiggle room. Their management has to be very careful,” says the center’s director, Jean Linehan.

    The demand for information among caregivers to the mentally disabled is so great — especially at group homes — that last year Linehan’s staff taught diabetes basics and special-needs strategies to aides from 35 facilities in Philly and the suburbs.

    Pregnant patients’ health plans typically cover their fees. The caregiver program is $50.

    Diabetes Education Center, 800 Spruce St., 215-829-5725.


    8. DIABETES 
EN ESPAñOL
    The small, scrappy Community Health Collaborative, based in North Philly with a dedicated following of diabetic clients at the Norris Square Senior Citizen Center, is expanding into South Philly in partnership with the Puentes de Salud health center.

    Its lively Spanish-language diabetes courses address the everyday aspects of managing the disease. A class about reading nutrition labels is themed around cooking a pot of rice and beans, with students poring over sofrito and Sazon Goya labels to count carbs, fats, proteins and fiber. At Puentes de Salud, chef David Suro from Tequila’s Restaurant is a menu collaborator and occasional guest.

    Norris Square Senior Center, 215-423-7241. Puentes de Salud, 1900 S. Broad St. at St. Agnes Hospital, 215-490-6700.


    9. KIDS’ OUTINGS, B.Y.O. INSULIN
    Cooper University Hospital takes young children with Type 1 diabetes on field trips to the Garden State Discovery Museum. They eat, test their blood sugar and take insulin alongside each other — “just to show there are other kids doing what they’re doing,” says diabetes nurse Michelle Laranko. Then they play.

    For diabetic tweens, Laranko schedules bowling parties at Cherry Hill’s Baker Lanes.

    The Virtua Health Teen Diabetes Support Group in nearby Voorhees hosts an annual ice-skating party (this year on Dec. 9) for diabetic high school kids at the Flyers Skate Zone.

    Laranko also teaches a class for college-bound students. “We talk about alcohol and sex and tattoos,” she says. “Those are all things that typical college students do, and we need to talk about it before it happens.”

    Cooper’s Laranko can be reached at 856-963-3764. The phone number to register for Virtua’s skating party is 888-847-8823. Children don’t need to be enrolled with any specific health system to join either hospital’s programs.


    Help lines and helpful Web sites
    The American Diabetes Association runs a toll-free helpline staffed by experts who can answer your questions in English or Spanish, and who have access to translators for callers who speak other languages. The line is staffed weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. at 800-342-2383.

    The ADA Web site, www.diabetes.org, has up-to-date information about everything from medicines, monitors and insulin pumps to support groups that are held at local churches.

    Or consult the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse, run by the National Institutes of Health, at www.diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/.

    by BECKY BATCHA batchab@phillynews.com
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