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New Diabetes Education Program Coming to Flagler County

By Gretchen Smith

November 06, 2018

Bunnell, Fla. - November is Diabetes Awareness Month and the Florida Department of Health in Flagler County (DOH-Flagler) is rolling out a new Diabetes Self-Management Education (DSME) program designed to change the lives of those facing this chronic disease. In early 2019, the DSME program will begin offering individual and group classes led by nurses, dieticians and life coaches. The goal is to teach individuals with diabetes how to improve their health and reduce their risks of disease-related complications.

“We are excited to launch this program and to be part of Florida Hospital Flagler Foundation’s DiaBEATes Alliance to raise awareness,” stated Health Officer, Robert Snyder with DOH-Flagler. “While Flagler County is the 14th healthiest county in the state, there is a need to address the growing rate of diabetes in our community, particularly since we’re trending higher than the state average. It is our hope that our collective efforts will reduce these trends and help our neighbors with diabetes lead healthier lives.”

Snyder said that nearly 14% of adults in Flagler have been told they have diabetes, compared with the statewide average of 12% according to data from Florida Community Health Assessment Resource Tool Set (CHARTS). And since 25 percent of Flagler’s adults are considered obese (matching the state average in 2016), there is a likelihood that the rate of newly diagnosed diabetes patients will rise in the future. Diabetes is now recognized as the third leading cause of death with heart, kidney disease, and stroke being the resulting complications from uncontrolled blood glucose levels. Research has indicated that by controlling blood glucose levels, it is possible to prevent, delay, and potentially reverse these complications. Education is the KEY.

With the DOH-Flagler’s Director of Nursing Bonnie Welter leading the charge, Snyder and his team have spent months preparing a work plan and obtaining the funding to begin. Alana Shawah, a registered senior dietitian, was recently promoted to Diabetes Coordinator. Both Welter and Shawah will seek their Diabetes Educator certification.

The health department expects primary care physicians with HealthCare partners will be its initial referral source. While the program will focus on those already diagnosed at first, it will expand into Diabetes Prevention over time with even more classes and educational opportunities for those with or at risk of developing diabetes. The department will seek accreditation by the American Association of Diabetes Educators and the CDC in 2020, and become eligible for Medicare and private health insurance reimbursement thereafter.

If you, a friend, or a loved one, are living with diabetes, please call the DOH-Flagler County at 386-313-7110 for more information on how to enroll.

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For information about the Florida Department of Health in Flagler, go to, call 386-437-7350, or visit 301 Dr. Carter Blvd. in Bunnell.