With Prince George’s County residents experiencing higher incidents of diabetes than people who live in many neighboring jurisdictions, Doctors Community Hospital’s Joslin Diabetes Center provides people with the tools to identify and manage this chronic disease. As the only multidisciplinary and accredited diabetes center in the county, some of these tools include access to support groups as well as screening and educational opportunities.
Diabetes is a national epidemic. According to the American Diabetes Association’s 2011 National Diabetes Fact Sheet, more than 25.8 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes. Additionally, there are an estimated 7 million people who are undiagnosed and 79 million people who have pre-diabetes. The 2011 Maryland Annual Vital Statistics Report finds that Prince George’s County’s diabetes death rates are significantly higher than the state’s average.
According to Dr. Anteneh Zenebe, endocrinologist at Doctors Community Hospital’s Joslin Diabetes Center, “What we’ve seen is that as obesity rates have increased, so have closely-related conditions like diabetes. Also, many people who do not know they have diabetes or are not consistently managing this disease sometimes rely on area emergency rooms when they experience health crises. So, it has become vitally important to provide comprehensive care that helps people learn whether they have diabetes as well as help them manage and monitor this disease daily.”
A PhD student and English teacher, Kofi Adisa of Bowie, Maryland, learned that he had diabetes. “After having my long awaited yearly exam, my primary care physician called me with the results of my routine blood tests. When she told me that I have ‘diabetes,’ it was somewhat unsettling but not completely surprising.” Having watched his mother struggle with managing her diabetes for years and knowing that obesity is often a high risk factor, Mr. Adisa accepted the news as a way to improve his health and life. "[This diagnosis] put a lot of things into perspective. My grandmother’s sister had her leg amputated because of diabetes. I didn’t want that and I wanted to make sure I would be there for my wife and kids.”
Mr. Adisa decided to get care at Doctors Community Hospital’s Joslin Diabetes Center. “I took my condition seriously. I learned that the Joslin Diabetes Center was not too far from my home, so I contacted a representative to schedule some kind of diabetes counseling,” said Mr. Adisa. With a referral from his primary care physician, Mr. Adisa enrolled in a four-week educational class at the center. In addition to instructions on how to manage diabetes from a nurse diabetes educator, he also learned how to make better food choices from a registered dietician. “One of the most important lessons that I learned was to control my food portion sizes. Sure, I could still enjoy many of my favorite foods, but in more reasonable quantities or prepared in healthier ways.”
From a comprehensive diabetes program to a partnership with the Prince George’s County Health Department to provide free screenings and education as part of an On the Road with Diabetes Program, Doctors Community Hospital helps people address this chronic disease while making well-educated healthcare decisions. “The first step is for people to get a simple fasting glucose level or hemoglobin A1C test performed at their primary care physicians’ offices. I particularly encourage individuals who have high risk factors to have this test done,” stated Dr. Zenebe.
The diabetes-related risk factors for people who are overweight or obese include:
- First-degree relative who has diabetes
- Physical inactivity
- Women who delivered a baby weighing more than nine pounds or who had gestational diabetes during pregnancy
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure or prescribed blood pressure medication
- Dark velvety skin on the back of their necks or armpits also known as acanthosisnigricans
- Women who have polycystic ovary syndrome
- History of heart disease or stroke
According to Dr. Zenenbe, “In the absence of these risk factors, testing should begin no later than age 45. If it is determined that you have diabetes, it is important to take control of your diabetes by monitoring your diet, exercising regularly, taking any prescribed medications and getting regular medical checkups to ensure that you are effectively managing your diabetes,” stated Dr. Zenebe.
Today, Mr. Adisa has lost more than 30 pounds, eats healthier and walks almost daily. “I think about my diabetes every day, as I should,” Mr. Adisa said. “I think about diabetes from the perspective of being in control of it rather than feeling like it controls me.”
To learn more about the services provided at Doctors Community Hospital’s Joslin Diabetes Center, please call 301-552-8661.