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Diabetes Education Key to Improving Quality of Life

November 10th, 2020
Bill Lunavictoria

In a moment Bill Lunavictoria’s life changed, and his health dramatically improved.

In May 2019, the Merrick resident was diagnosed with Type II diabetes. His primary care physician strongly advised him to change his diet and ultimately Lunavictoria’s test results revealed he was diabetic.

“My first thought was, ‘if he’s sending me, he clearly suspects something,’” Lunavictoria recalled. “After I got the results, I knew I had two choices. I could either cry about it or do something to change my life. I decided to move forward and make the necessary changes.”

For those with diabetes, changing eating habits and understanding which foods are healthy can be daunting without proper counseling. The Catholic Health Services’s (CHS) St. Joseph Hospital Diabetes Education Center staff helped Lunavictoria face this challenge. The Bethpage center’s staff includes registered dieticians and certified diabetes care and education specialists who provide education on healthy eating and other self-care behaviors to adults living with diabetes.

St. Joseph is one of four CHS hospitals that offers diabetes education services. Others are located at St. Francis Hospital’s DeMatteis Center in Greenvale, St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson and Mercy Medical Center in Rockville Centre. Additionally, CHS provides services to those with diabetes at the Nutrition and Diabetes Center for Health and Wellness in Commack.

As he started his journey, Lunavictoria saw St. Joseph Diabetes Education Director Alysa Ferguson, MS, RD, CDCES. “I’m a big fan of Alysa,” he said. “When we first met she gave me a lot of room to talk about my situation, and she really did listen to me. “

Ferguson explained how to use equipment to monitor blood sugar, understand the types of food that should and should not be eaten, learn how to properly read and understand food labels and gain insight into the types of meals to order at a restaurant.

“Alysa showed me that this was more than only going on a diet. It is a lifestyle change,” he said. “I am now reading food labels and know what to buy when I go to the grocery store.”

Since taking his first Diabetes Education Class at St. Joseph in the summer of 2019, Lunavictoria has lost more than 50 pounds, his A1C level (the percentage of red blood cells that have sugar-coated hemoglobin) has dropped, his cholesterol numbers have improved and he has reduced the amount of medication needed to control his blood sugar levels.

“My doctor provided me with the intervention I needed, and St. Joseph provided me with the solution to my problem,” Lunavictoria said. “There was a time that I was sluggish and did not have the energy to do certain things. Now I have a quality of life beyond my dreams.”

More information on CHS’s diabetes care and education services may be obtained by calling 1 (855) CHS-4500 or visiting chsli.org.

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