Kelly Dawes

Pictured is Kelly Dawes, BSN, RN, MLDE, CDCES with the Pennyrile District Health Department, who holds a healthy diabetes flyer.

As everybody’s world has been turned upside down with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, diabetes is still common in Kentucky with 13.3% of adults and nearly 464,000 Kentuckians with diabetes in 2019. Which is an increase from 6.5% of Kentucky adults who had diabetes in 2000.

The local health departments always offered free in-person Healthy Living with Diabetes DSMES (Diabetes Self-Management Education and Support) classes and due to the COVID-19 pandemic continuing the free classes are offered by telehealth/online. In collaboration with the Kentucky Diabetes Prevention and Control Program (KDPCP) in Frankfort and local health departments the telehealth/online program was designed to offer the sessions in the convenience of the participant’s home using their phone, tablet, or computer.

Debbie Bell RD, LD, MLDE, CDCES (Certified Diabetes Care & Education Specialist) and Bonnie Hughes RN, BSN, LDE, Franklin County Health Department; Jason McKenzie APRN, FNP-C, Gateway District Health Department; Kelly Dawes RN, BSN, MLDE, CDCES, Pennyrile District Health Department and DeAnna Leonard RN, BSN, LDE Purchase District Health Department were among the selected health departments to help roll out the DSMES telehealth/online sessions in West, Central and East Kentucky and are offered different days and length of times — there are eight one-hour and four two-hour sessions. If a participant misses one session, they can attend a recorded version, or attend another session with a different presenter in another part of the state to get all the session content.

The classes are on zoom and if the participant is not familiar with zoom, we do a practice zoom session. Anyone with type 1, type 2, gestational diabetes or supporting a loved one with diabetes can attend the classes. Participants learn the latest information on managing diabetes, including healthy eating, developing an active lifestyle, taking medications, and reducing their risk for long-term complications.

Diann Petschke and Bonnie Thorpe are two telehealth/online participants who wanted to share their experiences. Diann was already familiar with Kelly due to talking with her while Diann was seeing an Endocrinologist so it was natural that she would call Kelly after seeing a Healthy Living with Diabetes class advertisement in the newspaper.

Diann participated with DeAnna and Kelly after missing the opportunity to attend the first class but was so happy to get in the second. Diann has had diabetes for 21 years and said it was good to review all the information.

The classes were presented well with all questions answered. Diann wants to get her family more involved with her diabetes and the day-to-day problems of living with diabetes. Diann said her hubby “is more open to learning what to do if I become unconscious and how to use the new nasal spray ‘survival’ medication.”

The class made Diann more aware of what she needed to do for her safety in emergencies including when to discard the diabetes medications. Diann said, “It is hard for me to take care of myself first. I tend to want to help others or tend to their needs first.”

Diann loved using the new technology so she could stay right at home for the classes.

Diann liked the “homework” which enabled her to put what she learned that week of class to use. As Diann participated on the telehealth/online class she said the class is helping her to communicate better with her new Endocrinologist. The tips and suggestions including the “Snacks under 100 calories” magnet have helped her make life dealing with diabetes easier and she feels so much better. Diann feels that all people with diabetes could benefit from the classes even if they had diabetes for a while or were newly diagnosed.

Bonnie Thorpe participated with Debbie, Bonnie, Jason and Kelly and her adventure with type 2 began the summer of 1996 when she received a phone call from her doctor stating that she had diabetes mellitus, type 2. He offered nothing else. Bonnie stated I knew I would not be eating homemade blackberry cobbler that night for dessert. Then I thought I am on my own!! My mother who also has type 2 diabetes shared some “old diabetic” diets with me. She emphasized that sugar was one of the foods that I wouldn’t be able to enjoy. Seeing doctors consisted of lab work and continuous frowns at my increase weight. I checked out books at the library which were outdated!! I coasted along several years without major change in my weight or blood sugars. One special day I saw an advertisement about Healthy Living with Diabetes class. I understand that I needed to change my actions as I was experiencing several physical health problems, so I contacted the person listed in the ad. And now, today I lead a healthy life with diabetes: As Bonnie participated on the telehealth/online classes she said the classes were very informative and engaging by the presenters. They were in-depth and inclusive to those having type 2 diabetes. All my questions were answered. The camaraderie with the presenters was rewarding and the presenter’s responses were made with ease. They have a great knowledge of diabetes mellitus. They were focused on helping us to cope with the disease. Bonnie said I have been invigorated by the “prompt” to be healthier. I have increased my activities, measured my blood sugars at different times other than simply before breakfast. My menus are different, counting carbohydrates, and finding alternatives to consuming sugar. I learned the only dumb question is the one not asked. I did not want to sit in my recliner the rest of my life and become a “cripple.” Walking and fitness exercises are my methods of increasing my activities. I recommend the zoom classes to those “trying to handle diabetes”. Many other points during the classes were specific and emphasized what I found important, such as alternating my monitoring of blood glucose readings, etc. It is a worthwhile journey and I feel enriched through taking the “Healthy Living with Diabetes” classes”. I just wanted to tell you how important Bonnie, Deb, Jason, and Kelly have been in prompting to “do better” regarding my diabetes! By sitting in my recliner all day to walking has really improved my mobility as I do not want to be a “cripple!”

Diann and Bonnie are two different people on separate paths with one goal in mind “a healthy and successful life in spite of diabetes!!

For more information on the Healthy Living with Diabetes telehealth/online classes contact Kelly Dawes RN, BSN, MLDE, CDCES with the Pennyrile District Health Department at the following clinics:

• Caldwell County Health Center 270-365-6571

• Crittenden County Health Center 270-965-5215 (Closed every Thursday)

• Livingston County Health Center 270-928-2193 (Closed every Monday and Wednesday)

• Lyon County Health Center 270-388-9763 (Closed every Thursday)

• Trigg County Health Center 270-522-8121 Ext. 212

Message from the KDPCP (Kentucky Diabetes Prevention and Control Program)