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Endocrinology: Diabetes Care

Until there's a cure, there is help

Since 1987, Lee Diabetes Care at Lee Health has served the residents of Southwest Florida by providing education to help you control your diabetes. Education on proper nutrition (carbohydrate counting), medication, exercise, and stress management are the key components in achieving this balance.

Lee Diabetes Care is an excellent resource for people with diabetes at any stage. We offer a complete program of treatment and consultation services through inpatient and outpatient care.

The Certified Diabetes Educators at Lee Diabetes Care will help you achieve a healthier lifestyle, which will improve your blood sugar control, avoid or delay the onset of diabetes complications, and enhance your overall health.

Our educators work with your doctor to develop a treatment plan tailored to your individual needs.

The American Diabetes Association has recognized Lee Diabetes Care for quality patient education in accordance with the National Standards for Diabetes Patient Education Programs since 1989.

Do you know:

  • What carbohydrates are and what foods contain them?
  • How many carbohydrates you should eat daily?
  • When you should take your oral medication?
  • When you should inject your insulin?
  • That products labeled "no sugar added" are not sugar free?
  • What stress does to your blood sugar level?
  • How many times a day and when you should test your blood sugar?
  • What your blood sugar level should be in the morning? After meals?

Find out the answers to these questions and many more when you attend our diabetes education programs. Don't wait! Call us today at 239-424-3127.

Maintain a healthy lifestyle

It can affect any age and cause serious health concerns. “What is so concerning about type two diabetes is very often you have no symptoms at all. That is why if you’re over the age of 45, it is recommended that you’re screened annually for diabetes,” explained Sharon Krispinsky, a chronic health program coordinator with Lee Health. Over 30 million Americans are living with type two diabetes, but studies show one-third of that population does not realize they have the disease. “We can test for diabetes several different ways. The physicians can order fasting blood glucose, and if it’s greater than 126 on two occasions, that is diagnostic of diabetes,” she said. An A1C test can also be used to determine your risk for type two diabetes. A1C measures your average blood sugar control over the past three months. Patients are considered diabetic if their A1C is greater than 6.5. “We can prevent type two diabetes by adopting a healthier lifestyle, five to seven percent of weight loss, exercising 150 minutes a week--We can reduce the incidence of type two diabetes in those individuals by about 58 percent,” said Krispinsky. With healthy lifestyle changes, like stress management, physical activity, and weight loss, type two diabetes is also reversible. But if left untreated, it can cause serious health concerns. “What we see with type two diabetes is it primarily affects the large blood vessels so that we will see complications such as heart attacks, strokes, we will see foot infections that could lead to amputations,” she said. Making it important to know your risk for developing type two diabetes and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Learn more 

  • Diabetes is one of the fastest-growing diseases in the United States.
  • Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death by disease in this country.
  • 15-30 percent of patients with pre-diabetes will develop Type 2 Diabetes within five years if they do not lose weight and exercise moderately.
  • 29.1 million Americans have diabetes.
  • 8.1 million people in America have diabetes and don't know they have it.
  • Diabetes and its associated health problems cost $245 billion dollars annually.
  • Cardiovascular disease death rates are 1.7 times higher with individuals who have diabetes and hospitalizations for strokes are 1.5 times higher in people with diabetes.
  • In 2005-2008, 28.5 percent of diabetes adults over the age of 40 had diabetes retinopathy which may cause loss of vision.
  • More than 60 percent of non-traumatic lower-limb amputations occur in people with diabetes.
  • Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure.
  • Diabetes can be diagnosed through a simple blood sugar test. Ask your physician to perform one soon.

Signs and symptoms of diabetes

  • Excessive thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Dramatic, unexplained weight loss
  • Tingling in toes or feet
  • Wounds seem to be very slow in healing
  • Extremely and chronically fatigued

Risk factors for developing diabetes

  • A parent or family member with diabetes
  • Women who have given birth to babies weighing more than nine pounds or have a history of gestational diabetes
  • Increasing age
  • Overweight
  • Inactive lifestyle
  • African Americans, Latinos, Asian and Pacific Islanders and Native Americans
  • Low HDL cholesterol or high triglycerides

Get your health back on track

Margaret Baugher can’t stop smiling. “One of my coworkers actually said, ‘Oh I wish I looked like Margaret.’ I’ve never heard that in my life. So that was new! That was new! So it’s been a great thing.” Just six months into her pre-diabetes program she says she and others are already noticing the results. “I feel great! I have more energy. I sleep better at night. I have lost weight, and I’ve lost inches,” she said. Margaret started the one year program after her doctor diagnosed her with pre-diabetes. “Pre-diabetes that’s a little close. That’s too close to where I don’t want to be. Pre-diabetes patients have an A1C level between 5.7 and 6.4. Type two diabetes is diagnosed when a patent’s A1C gets over 6.5. Patients are at risk if they are overweight, inactive, or have high cholesterol or high blood pressure. “We help you set goals on how you can achieve weight loss and increase activity because those are the two things that can reverse pre-diabetes,” said Annette McClenahan, a certified diabetes educator for Lee Health Solutions. The class teaches participants how to make lifestyle changes to get their health back on track. “If we start working on these things early we can prevent this from progressing to diabetes,” said McClenahan. Participants learn how to log their food and track their exercise. “Our two program goals are to lose weight and work up to 150 minutes of moderate activity per week,” said McClenahan. With support, education and a plan to follow, Margaret is no longer pre-diabetic. “My A1C was a 6 which is pre-diabetes. In January when I got my next labs they were 4.6,” said Margaret. A program that helps participants focus on improving their lifestyle and prevent type two diabetes

Acute inpatient program

There may come a time when you will be a patient in a Lee Health hospital. If you are hospitalized, we have diabetes educators that may become an integral part of your care team.

Diabetes Educators are at all hospital facilities: Gulf Coast Medical Center, Lee Memorial Hospital, Cape Coral Hospital, Health Park Medical Center, Golisano Children's Hospital of Southwest Florida, and The Rehabilitation Hospital.

If ordered by your physician, Lee Diabetes Care educators will visit you in the hospital to discuss your educational needs and any identified barriers to good diabetes self-management at home.

The educators will work closely with you and your physician to develop an individual education plan.

After an initial education assessment, the educators are trained to prioritize the education objectives to optimize your diabetes self-management, prevent readmissions and promote a timely discharge.

Our diabetes educators work closely with the hospital case manager to ensure that you have a primary care and any additional needed resources to promote successful ongoing diabetes care.

Outpatient diabetes care

The diabetes education outpatient program is designed to give you the education tools needed to promote a healthier lifestyle, improve your blood sugar control, and ultimately decrease your risk of diabetes complications.

Our diabetes offers a variety of outpatient education programs designed to meet your individual needs. Our most comprehensive program consists of 10 hours of education followed by quarterly individual follow-up. We also offer a pregnancy and diabetes education program, a pre-diabetes education class, and individual consultations.

A physician referall is required for all education programs. Just ask your physician for the referral and their office will take it from there.

Comprehensive diabetes education program

Our diabetes educators teach a 10-hour comprehensive course several times a month. Classes take place at Lee Memorial Hospital, Cape Coral Hospital, HealthPark Medical Center, and the Outpatient Center at the Sanctuary. We offer morning, afternoon and evening classes. The key patient education topics taught during our comprehensive education program:

  • Nutrition
  • Blood glucose management
  • Physical activity
  • Medications
  • Complications
  • Behavior change

Once you complete the program, our diabetes educators will meet with you quarterly to track your progress and assist you with any diabetes management concerns that you have.

This program is a covered benefit of Medicare (certain criteria apply). Additionally, most HMO, PPO and commercial insurances will cover the cost.

Pregnancy and diabetes program

If you have diabetes and become pregnant or are diagnosed with gestational diabetes, our diabetes educator team is ready to provide you with the tools to control your blood sugar throughout the pregnancy. Good blood sugar control is essential for the health of you and your unborn baby.

The gestational diabetes program consists of a 2-hour initial class where we will instruct you on how to follow a healthy meal plan, test your blood sugars and take any diabetes medication prescribed by your physician. This class has frequent telephonic follow-up after class to assess your progress in managing your diabetes during the pregnancy.

Diabetes prevention program

Did you know that even with mildly elevated blood sugars, you are at an increased risk for heart disease? Have you been told that you have prediabetes? Would you like to learn about a variety of tools that have been proven to prevent or delay the onset of Type 2 diabetes?

The program focuses on making long-lasting lifestyle adjustments to prevent or delay type 2 diabetes. This year-long program with weekly meetings for the first six months, then once or twice a month for the second six months, is part of the National Diabetes Prevention Program, led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Learn about the benefits of modest weight loss and physical activity; manage symptoms of stress, make smarter decisions related to healthy eating, and tips to stay motivated. Participants will receive a participant guide to use as an ongoing reference tool once the classes are completed.

Individual consultation

Perhaps you have already completed a comprehensive diabetes education program, but you need more education with one particular aspect of diabetes management. Whether it is an insulin training, meal plan review, or assistance with blood glucose monitoring, our team of outpatient diabetes educators will provide you with this needed individual instruction.

Let us help you manage your diabetes. Call 239-424-3120.