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Flagler's Diabetes Self-Management Education Program Receives Accreditation

By Gretchen Smith

December 10, 2020

Bunnell, Fla.— Last week, the Florida Department of Health in Flagler County (DOH-Flagler) received its DEAP Accreditation (Diabetes Education Accreditation Program) through the Association of Diabetes Care & Education Specialists (ADCES), one of only two accrediting bodies for diabetes education in the United States.

“Accreditation is a huge accomplishment for our organization, and our diabetes education program that started in early 2019,” said Robert Snyder, health officer for the department. “Diabetes wasn’t being addressed in our community adequately, so we identified the right health educators to kickstart our new diabetes prevention and self-management programs.  Now less than two years later, the programs are thriving, we are making a positive difference in the lives of our class participants, and we earned DEAP certification for our Diabetes Self-Management Education and Support (DSMES) program right on schedule. We are very proud of our team and their hard work.”

DOH-Flagler’s outstanding diabetes education team is made up of registered nurse Bonnie Welter, who also serves as the department’s nursing director; Health Education Program Manager Alana Shawah; and Diabetes Prevention Program Coordinator Melissa Phillips.

According to Shawah, a senior registered dietitian who oversees the self-management program, education is key to understanding how to self-manage diabetes, stay healthy, and avoid any complications from diabetes down the road.

“Diabetes is a journey, and we are here to partner with clients to make every step of the way manageable. Being able to say our program meets national standards lets our clients and community know they will receive the highest quality of health care and health education from us,” she explained.

The ADCES accreditation process ensures that DOH-Flagler’s diabetes education program meets 10 requirements of the National Standards for Diabetes Self-Management and Support (DSMES), which are agreed upon jointly by ADCES and ADA (American Diabetes Association). The application process is lengthy, requiring program managers to submit a substantial amount of documentation for consideration and then reapplying for accreditation every four years. Once accredited, the diabetes education programs may bill Medicare for services.

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 clients 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. Clients diagnosed with Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes are referred to the DOH-Flagler Diabetes Self-Management program for an individual assessment and four group classes. With continued contact and support from DOH educators, clients can have better control of their diabetes and reduce their A1C levels.

DOH-Flagler’s Diabetes Prevention Program recently completed a similar application process and expects to receive recognition from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in early 2021.

If you, a friend, or a loved one, are living with or trying to prevent diabetes, please call the DOH-Flagler County at 386-313-7263 or 7264 for information about classes.

About the Florida Department of Health

The department, nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board, works to protect, promote and improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county and community efforts.

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For information about the local health department, go to flagler.floridahealth.gov, call 386-437-7350, or visit 301 Dr. Carter Blvd. in Bunnell. You can also listen to our weekly talk radio show “Flagler Health Matters,” Saturdays at 11:30AM, airing on WNZF News Radio 94.9FM or streaming at https://www.flaglerbroadcasting.com/wnzf.