Beyond the numbers on the debilitating effects of diabetes on healthcare workers, there are personal stories of success that may inspire others to join wellness programs.
Adoption of health behaviors like better diet, weight loss, and exercise can stop the progression of pre-diabetes warning signs and help those with the chronic condition keep it in check, says JoAnn Shea, ARNP, MS, COHN-S, director of employee health and wellness at Tampa General Hospital.
Shea gave a thumbnail sketch of a few such workers identified by first name only at a presentation on diabetes recently at the annual conference of the Association for Occupational Health Professionals in Healthcare.
Carlos, a lift team tech, found out he had diabetes during an employee health screening in 2014. After enrolling in the hospital’s Living with Diabetes program, he lowered his A1C glucose blood test score from 8.2 to 6.6. The only treatment he is on now is diet and exercise.
“The program is an excellent tool for early detection of high sugar levels and the need to address it,” he says. “It is through the program that I found out I have diabetes and I gained the required tools to take care of it.”
Dot, a housekeeping employee, found out she had pre-diabetes when she came to work at the hospital nine years ago. Four years later, her condition progressed to full type 2 diabetes and she joined the Living with Diabetes program. Dot lowered her A1C score from 14.8 to 8.2.
“It has helped me getting to see a doctor and take care of myself,” she says. “I am feeling much better now. I have more energy — before, I used to be so tired.”
Lanier, an environmental services aide, has a family history of diabetes and high cholesterol. He started working with employee wellness, received individual health coaching, and enrolled in the hospital’s diet and exercise program. In three months, he decreased his blood pressure, cholesterol, and body fat. A1C test scores were normal and his HDL cholesterol increased.
“Both my father and uncle had amputations due to diabetes,” he says. “I wanted to get healthy to avoid complications from diabetes.”