Diabetes program celebrates milestone
Nearly 250 people gathered in Norfolk to celebrate strong community support for individuals and families living with diabetes.
The occasion on Nov. 7 marked the 25th anniversary of the establishment of a program at Norfolk General Hospital dedicated to helping local residents manage the condition.
The program has since expanded to include Haldimand residents on an out-patient basis at West Haldimand General Hospital in Hagersville and War Memorial Hospital in Dunnville.
The one constant throughout has been Cindy Gekiere, the diabetes program co-ordinator in Haldimand and Norfolk. Gekiere was there at the beginning in 1993 and remains a beacon to local residents receiving a diagnosis of diabetes.
“You have arrived and survived and – most importantly – you have thrived in spite of it all,” she said.
Gekiere told those in attendance she is humbled by the courage and the “strength to incorporate into your lives the lifestyle changes to help control your blood sugar and to trust and have faith in your health-care providers as they guide you on what is best to do.”
A NGH news release says Gekiere began with an out-patient complement of 62 patients.
Today, 5,500 individuals are entered into the program’s database. Of these, 3,500 are associated with NGH. The program employs four registered nurses, three registered dieticians and two clerks.
Kelly Isfan, president and CEO of NGH and West Haldimand in Hagersville, had high praise for the diabetes program on the occasion of its 25th anniversary.
“Cindy has displayed extraordinary dedication in building a program best serving those living with diabetes in both communities,” Isfan said. “I am confident she and her team will continue to grow services to meet future needs.”
At the Nov. 7 gathering, guest speakers Dr. David Kennedy and Dr. Tim Bard spoke of the latest research and the latest expert opinions on managing the condition.
Those living with diabetes have advantages today that people 10 years ago could only dream of. Many people living with diabetes today monitor their blood-sugar levels with a wrist watch-like device. Not long ago, patients monitored their blood-sugar with a blood test.
Program milestones include the establishment of the Sugar Scoop newsletter in 1999. The Sugar Scoop is issued to everyone in the program’s data base once a year. It is instrumental in keeping everyone in the local area up to date on the latest information regarding diabetes management.
As well, in 1996, a monthly support group was established with guest speakers for those who are not interested in keeping scheduled appointments. That support group continues to gather to this day.
Cindy Gekiere, co-ordinator of the diabetes management program across the two counties, with Dr. David Kennedy, an expert on diabetes and one of the guest speakers at the Nov. 7 gala.