Sentara Community Benefit Report October 2011
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Giving Back: Sentara Community Benefit Report October 2011 

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Sentara Foundation supports program to help diabetes patients learn to live with their disease

CHESAPEAKE, VA (Sept. 21, 2011) – Doug Yarbrough, 49, was diagnosed with diabetes 15 years ago, but it wasn’t until 2008 when he almost rear-ended a car on the way to work because he didn’t see the brake lights that he began taking his disease seriously.

At that point, diabetes had caused so much damage to his eyes that even surgery could not prevent him from losing most of his sight. He is now 99 percent blind.

 Caran Zambas, RN, a diabetes educator at Chesapeake Care clinic, speaks to a patient. The clinic's efforts are highlighted in the October 2011 Sentara Community Benefits Report.
“Even though I had been diagnosed, I still had the idea that ‘it can’t happen to me,’” Yarbrough says. “I was stupid.”

When Yarbrough came to Chesapeake Care Inc., a free clinic for medically indigent people, his sugar levels were over 500 – a dangerously high level that could cause kidney failure – and the staff sent him directly to a hospital ER for treatment.

Since then he has been working with diabetes educator Caran Zambas, RN, to learn how to manage his diabetes in a program partially funded by a $13,000 grant from Sentara Health Foundation.

The program began last year to teach patients one-on-one strategies to help manage their diabetes, including diet, exercise, medication management, glucose monitoring, and foot and eye care. Of the clinic’s 300 diabetic patients, Zambas works with about 250 at some point in their treatment.

“Our goal is to stabilize the patient and then help them move on,” says clinic Executive Director Cathy Revell, RN. “We want them to learn to self manage and follow up with their primary care physician, but they can always come back when they need to.”

The clinic currently has a waiting list of 700, which means people must wait months to be seen by a doctor. Helping patients with chronic conditions manage their diseases frees up more visits so that other people can use the medical services, Revell explains. The diabetes program has been so successful, the clinic hopes to expand the education model and use it with other chronic diseases, such as hypertension, high cholesterol, obesity, anxiety and depression.

Yarbrough says he appreciates that Zambas understands his disease first-hand – she has diabetes herself – and she works with his food preferences and lifestyle to make a plan that he can live with.

“I feel a million times better,” Yarbrough says. “There should be more places like this.”

This story is one of several featured in the latest issue of Sentara's Community Benefits Report.

Read more about Sentara’s commitment to the community in the October issue of our Community Benefit Report.

This edition also covers a grant awarded to by the Sentara Health Foundation to support domestic violence victims and Sentara Senior Services  employees who volunteered with the Serve the City event in Chesapeake.

Related Links:
 Sentara Community Benefit Report October 2011
Sentara Diabetes Services
Sentara Health Foundation

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