St. Joseph’s Hospital’s Diabetes Clinic stays busy

St. Joseph’s Hospital’s Diabetes Clinic has been helping people with diabetes for many years. As the disease progresses and prevalence of diabetes goes up, since its inception the clinic has expanded and constantly stays busy.

Lifestyles reached out to Angie Wiebe, who is the chronic disease nurse educator with the Saskatchewan Health Authority for Estevan and Oxbow, to find out what kind of support the Estevan diabetes clinic provides to its patients.

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“In the Estevan diabetes clinic we have collaborative care, we have a nurse and a dietician that see clients together,” said Wiebe.

A health care professional or a doctor can refer patients to the diabetes program, but self-referrals are also acceptable. Wiebe explained the process.

“People can just phone the hospital and … ask for the diabetes nurse or they can ask for the dietician. And we communicate together and decide who best fits them at this point,” said Wiebe.

At this time the clinic operates on a weekly basis, with all appointments taking place every Tuesday.

The Estevan clinic provides education and self-management support for patients with diabetes. Currently, clinics are offered as individual sessions only.

“We help people to self-manage their chronic condition by educating them,” said Wiebe.

While the clinic provides individual appointments, they invite family members who have questions or need support to come as well. Wiebe said that in the future, they might also consider having group sessions.

Diabetes is a serious chronic condition that, according to the Saskatchewan Health Authority's data, affects some two million Canadians. Wiebe said that the number of people affected by the disease keeps constantly growing.

There are two main types of diabetes. About 10 per cent of people with diabetes struggle with Type 1 and have to have daily insulin injections. Type 2 diabetes is the more common one, with rates that have been rapidly increasing over the last 10 years.

“We usually have a six to eight weeks waiting list. So if you get a referral today, you are probably not going to get in until December,” said Wiebe.

However, the clinic always treats every case individually and sees clients depending on the level of urgency of the situation.

“We do prioritize,” said Wiebe. “Like we do see Gestational diabetes, GDM, we see them right away within a week.”

The support the Estevan clinic provides is individualized. General chronic disease management visits are every three months, just like the blood work appointments, but clients can alternate that according to their needs.

“Sometimes somebody can see us one time, and they feel that they are doing good. And might just do a yearly recall and see their doctor in-between. Other people see us every three months,” said Wiebe. “If their diabetes isn’t managed, we encourage them to see us every three to six months just to get them to the goals, to get them to the targets of the Canadian practice guidelines.”

Type 2 diabetes is managed with a healthy diet, exercise and, sometimes, medications, which may include insulin injections.

The clinic specialists educate clients about the healthy lifestyle, and also help them to define and adjust individual goals.

“Our goal is to work with lifestyle. Our first goal is to educate them,” said Wiebe. “First of all, we talk about their lifestyle. The dietician is there as well, so the dietician reviews the diet. We go through their diet with them and see if there are any changes they can make to help their health. We also talk about physical activity and set personal … goals with them to increase their activity to at least the minimum standards for diabetes, (it) is 150 minutes a week. So we usually suggest 30 minutes five days a week.”

Professionals strive to get the clients into a healthy lifestyle, and then they also look into medications. If patients have done the best they could in their diet and level of activity, then they try to adjust the medications.

“It’s very informative and very individualized appointment to help them prevent the extension of their diabetes,” said Wiebe.

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