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HSN diabetes program gets $2.3M injection

You wouldn't know it to look at him today, but this time last year, Glenn Smith was very ill.
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The province has provided $2.3 million in operating funding for the Centre for Complex Diabetes Care at Health Sciences North's Sudbury Outpatient Centre. From left are hospital CEO Dr. Denis Roy, patient Glenn Smith, Joanne Guizzo, manager of the hospital's ambulatory care clinics and Jody Anderson, registered nurse and case manager at the diabetes program. Photo by Heidi Ulrichsen.
You wouldn't know it to look at him today, but this time last year, Glenn Smith was very ill.

Back in 2011, he'd ended up with a strep B infection in his foot which created two holes in his foot – one the size of a toonie and the other the size of a pencil eraser.

Smith then developed a bacterial infection in one of his foot bones. Although his pain was relieved when the bone was removed in December 2012, the infection made it difficult for him to walk for a long time.

As a diabetic for more than 30 years, that was problematic.

“A diabetic requires exercise,” Smith said. “It's very hard to get the proper exercise, so it's self-defeating.”

He was referred to the Centre for Complex Diabetes Care, a service which opened at the Sudbury Outpatient Centre in 2011, and provides care and consultation on an outpatient basis to people across northeastern Ontario with complex diabetes.

These are patients who are experiencing diabetes complications, other health issues such as obesity and heart disease, barriers in accessing health care, and recurrent diabetes emergencies or hospitalizations.

To date, more than 500 patients across northeastern Ontario have accessed services at the program. People can be referred by a family doctor, nurse practitioner or specialist.

Within a couple of months of being referred to the program, Smith said his diabetes was under control again.

He said he's grateful to the many health-care professionals at the diabetes program and throughout the hospital system who helped him during his illness.

The program which helped Smith so much received some good news Oct. 16 — the province announced it will provide $2.3 million in operating funds to keep it running for another year.

“This program has proven to have a positive impact on patients living with diabetes by allowing them to better manage their conditions according to their needs, and live healthy lives,” said Sudbury MPP Rick Bartolucci, in a press release.

“We are very fortunate to have this centre, funded by the provincial government, here in Sudbury.”

He said the Sudbury program was one of three complex diabetes outpatient programs to open in 2011, and there are now six in the province.

“I look forward to other communities across Ontario having the good fortune to have this type of centre that deals directly with the patient,” Bartolucci said.

Joanne Guizzo, manager of Health Sciences North's ambulatory care clinics, said she's pleased to receive the operating funding.

“It's such an important service for the citizens of northeastern Ontario, and it's great to be able to continue the work we've been doing here and change more patients' lives like Glenn,” she said. “It's been phenomenal.”

So far, the program has had very good results, Guizzo said.

For example, patients enrolled in the program last year saw an average of a 0.5-per-cent reduction in their A1C scores, which are a measure of a person's average blood glucose level over two or three months.

“This doesn't sound like a lot numbers-wise, but it's very significant, because a reduction of one per cent has an associated reduction in those complications significantly,” Guizzo said. “Any reduction is impressive.”

Staff at the program hear from many patients such as Smith who are grateful for how it's changed their lives, she said.

“I don't always hear first-hand, but certainly the staff that are engaged in direct patient care share a lot of stories,” Guizzo said. “We even have patients send us letters and thank-yous and so on. We're seeing a lot of success like that so far.”

Heidi Ulrichsen

About the Author: Heidi Ulrichsen

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