Petersburg: Medical center offers diabetes help

Posted: Sunday, March 17, 2002

A program at the Petersburg Medical Center is providing a voice for residents with diabetes, which afflicts one out of every 17 people.

In the past, when local residents were diagnosed with diabetes, they didn't feel they were getting comprehensive education on how to manage the disease. Last March at the Petersburg Medical Center's diabetes education week, there was so much public outcry that the hospital challenged diabetes self-management director Millie Tuccillo to come up with ways to meet Petersburg diabetics' demands.

The result has been a monthly support group called Living Well with Diabetes.

The meeting in January focused on eye disease, the No. 1 cause of blindness in diabetics. The March 28 meeting will focus on dental health.

Last July, Tuccillo studied whether a one-on-one education program used at Virginia Mason Hospital in Seattle would be applicable in Petersburg.

"We wanted to see if it were something people could use," stated Tuccillo, "or would it be a large operating expense that was only used by a small number of folks?"

The completed study showed that patients in the one-on-one educational sessions were able to control their diabetes. Some 73 percent of patients showed dramatic changes and stabilization in the progress of the disease.

"Before the end of the six-month study, we realized the need to continue to develop the program," commented Tuccillo.

Some stages still need to be completed for the program to be certified. Insurance companies will not reimburse patients unless the program is certified through the American Diabetes Association, a process that normally takes up to a year.

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