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Message from Amy Mansue
President and CEO, Inspira Health
November is National Diabetes Month, a time to bring awareness to a complex disease that affects over 1 in 10 Americans and 640,000 adults in New Jersey.
Diabetes is a chronic health condition that affects how your body turns food into energy. When you eat food, most of it is broken down into glucose and released into your bloodstream, increasing your blood sugar levels. This increase signals to your pancreas to release insulin, which helps the sugar enter your body’s cells to use as energy.
If you have either type 1 or type 2 diabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use insulin as well as it should, which could lead to serious health conditions like heart and kidney disease.
This year it’s more important than ever to shine a light on diabetes – type 2, in particular – as the condition is linked to more severe cases of COVID-19.
Know your risk factors
Currently, it’s unknown how to prevent type 1 diabetes, but family history and age both play a role. Type 2 diabetes develops over many years, and you’re at increased risk if you have prediabetes, are overweight, are over the age of 45, have a parent or sibling with type 2 diabetes, have had gestational diabetes, or are African American, Hispanic/Latino America, American Indian, or an Alaska Native.
Take control of your health
If you are diagnosed with diabetes, the good news is that both type 1 and type 2 diabetes are completely manageable with a healthy lifestyle. Type 2 can even be delayed or entirely prevented by focusing on making healthy choices.
To support you on your health journey, Inspira offers Diabetes Self-Management Education classes at our locations in Elmer, Vineland, and Woodbury. Our certified diabetes educators help participants to learn the key behavior s that promote blood glucose control. Our comprehensive team of specialists include endocrinologists Jodi Fox-Mellul, MD, in Mullica Hill, Jenine Vecchio, MD, in Sicklerville and endocrine surgeon Leon Kushnir, MD in Vineland.
Additionally, we recently launched Inspira Health+ Technology-Assisted Care Management, a program that provides around-the-clock monitoring and personalized health actions to help patients monitor their health condition from home. Health+ helped Rosenhayn resident Pete Ballurio manage his diabetes, blood pressure and weight under better control.
And if you want to hear his story, you might have to catch him before or after one of his 10-mile bike rides. At 74, Pete is taking full advantage of his newly improved quality of life.
Pete recalls the day that his physician, Bac Nguyen, MD, of Inspira Medical Group Family Practice in Mullica Hill, gave him a choice. His diabetes was not well controlled. Dr. Nguyen told Pete that he could add another pill to his daily routine or participate in Health+. It provides participants with wireless medical devices, such as blood glucose monitors, scales and blood pressure cuffs, that automatically transmit results to nurses for monitoring in real time, 24 hours a day.
"It’s pretty nice, sort of like someone watching you, but not right on top of you. There is no one yelling at you," Ballario explains. "I don't want to get bad numbers, I want to do better, so that they [the nurses and doctor] know."
"It keeps you aware of where you should be. Do I need to be more careful about what I eat? Or, do I need to do more exercise?”
By all measures, Ballurio has done well. He and Dr. Nguyen get excited when they talk about the improvements in his health status. He has dropped about 15 pounds and lowered his blood pressure since enrolling in Health+ in February. But his greatest achievement has been his ability to control his blood sugar.
"It sort of lets you know what you can and can't eat. I think it also shows that you should eat smaller portions," says Pete.
In describing his patient’s success, Dr. Nguyen knows that Pete’s improved quality of life tells the story better than any number or vital sign ever could. As he sees it, Pete’s achievements perfectly illustrate how a collaborative, comprehensive, patient-focused approach to disease management can greatly improve a person’s quality of life.
This November, we encourage all of you to assess your risk for diabetes by visiting our website at inspirahealthnetwork.org/diabetes and filling out our online assessment.
It is a privilege and an honor to serve you and the South Jersey community for any and all of your health care needs. Until we may have the chance to meet, stay safe and be well.