As the Medical Director of our organization, I've been completing the annual review of our diabetes program over the last few months. This has included visiting with most of the patients enrolled in the program to get their feedback, and it has also included observing our staff in their regular interactions with patients. All of this, of course, with the goal of ensuring that we are delivering the highest quality care to our patients, following our medical protocols, and continually looking for opportunities to improve.
I've been very impressed, especially with the nurses and community health workers who do the bulk of the work and are responsible for keeping the program running. Compared to last year, control of blood sugar averages, high blood pressure, and kidney disease have all improved significantly. Patients who need intensive insulin therapy are being rapidly identified, and nursing staff are doing a great job teaching patients how to safely use insulin.
From the patient side, things are also looking good. Morale is high. Attendance at regular health checkup is better than ever. Peer support among patients and families continues to grow. The diabetes clinic really does feel like a "community" of individuals working to help each other along.
This year we'll continue to do all of this great work - and look for ways to expand it - and we'll need your support to keep going as always! Please consider giving to this amazing program this year. Together we are changing lives.
We are very excited about plans for our diabetes programing in 2013. We've just hired some new staff to expand our capacity. This has become very important lately, as our panel of diabetic patients has continued to grow. In particular, we are now managing a core group of patients with very long-standing diabetes who are dealing with some significant diabetes-related complications, such as kidney failure. Intensive management of these complex patients, requires dedicated and competent local staff, and so the new hires are a first step towards addressing these new needs.
In addition, we are happy to report that the result of some of our work with diabetics in Guatemala have just been published here and is available for reading free of charge. This study was conducted by some of our medical students and volunteers, who examined health patterns in our diabetic panel, with the goal of helping us improve our programming. Already, the results are having an impact on our plans for the year. For example, the study found that lack of strong family supports is a big factor in adherence to medication regimens and diabetic diets, and so we are putting more home visits and other similar supports in place for our patients this year. Similarly, the study demonstrated very high rates of obesity in our population, much higher than we had anticipated, and so we are thinking hard about what we can do to incorporate a more focused approach to weight loss and exercise into our patient education this year.
As always, thanks so much for your support, and don't hesitate to write me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions!
Dear friends, one of the things that amazes me the most about Wuqu' Kawoq's diabetes staff and program is how adaptable and capable they are, and how committed to patient care. This was recently demonstrated to me by two recent cases from last month.
Since we are largely a referral diabetes program, patients tend to come to us after having failed to achieve adequate treatment for their diabetes elsewhere. As such, most of the time our diabetic patients are really quite sick and require a lot of individualized attention. In fact, many of them end up coming to us because they've been turned away by other clinics that feel they are too advanced in their diabetes to be treatable.
Recently, two patients had to start peritoneal dialysis, because their diabetes was so long-standing and had caused such damage to their kidneys. This would normally be an insurmountable barrier, both financially and logistically, for the average patient. However, our excellent social work staff guided both patients through the entire process, accompanying them to their medical visits, picking up medication prescriptions, and so on. Our excellent nursing staff taught the patients how to watch their diets, prevent infection, and manage their home dialysis sessions. Our excellent logistics staff made sure that each patient had an appropriate place in the home to initiate dialysis safely.
All in all, the experience made me feel so proud to be part of this team, which is consistently transforming and elevating the quality of care offered to patients with this difficult disease.
As always, none of this would be possible without your support and encouragement! We ask that you please consider us once again this holiday season in your giving. Don't forget that Global Giving will allow you to give a donation in honor of a loved one!
More than anything, I attribute the success of our diabetes programs to our amazing staff - nurses and health promoters - who every day advocate for patients and make sure that they have all the resources necessary to live healthy lives.
Let me just tell you one story by way of example. Several months ago, we had two new patients come to our diabetic clinic with type 1 diabetes. This is unusual, because the vast majority (99%) of patients that we take care of have type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is the kind of diabetes that develops earlier in life and is much more difficult to control because it requires earlier and more frequent insulin injections.
These two patients are young women, sisters, in their mid twenties, who were diagnosed with type 1 diabetes as teenagers. However, in the last 10 years since diagnosis, they had never found adequate treatment for their diabetes, mostly because other clinics were uncomfortable dealing with patients with the type 1 diagnosis or because the insulin treatments prescribed were too expensive.
These barriers, however, were no big deal for our staff. First, since the medications we provide are free of charge (thanks to all of you and your generous support!), we were immediately able to manage that concern. Next, the staff leaped into action, providing intensive in-home nutritional counseling and lifestyle advice to the women over the next two months. They also provided the women with blood sugar testing supplies (again, thanks to your generous support!), which allowed for intensive monitoring and rapid adjustment of insulin doses. The result: after three months, both women have blood sugars that are nearly normal, and they feel better than they have ever felt in the last decade! By controlling their diabetes, we are able not only to make them feel better but also prevent long term damage to their eyes, nerves, and kidneys.
Recently, some of our staff and patients had the opportunity to host a group of international visitors (see the pictures below). The visitors had the opportunity to learn about the challenges of treating diabetes in Guatemala and how Wuqu' Kawoq is attempting to take care of this problem, one patient at a time!
We have been running diabetes programs in Guatemala now for nearly 7 years! Over that time, a guiding aspect of our philosophy and approach to patients has been accompaniment and home visits. As you probably know, diabetic patients often have a hard time meeting the strict guidelines set forth for medications, diet, and exercise. This is not a problem unique to Guatemala, of course, but it is especially difficult there, where low levels of education and literacy and high rates of poverty dramatically impact the ability of patients to keep up with their care plans.
Since the beginning, therefore, we have made a point to try to understand diabetes from the perspective of the patients. This means, quite simply, spending a lot of time with them. For example, one of our nurses regularly reviews the blood sugar results of our diabetic patient panel. Based on these numbers, she is able to identify patients who are having a hard time managing their condition. Subsequently, she sets up home visits, where she is able to spend an entire day with the patient and their family, observing them preparing meals and making suggestions about healthy food choices and portion sizes. In the case of patients who have trouble remembering to take their medications, she also uses these visits as opportunities to identify and implement effective strategies, which often involve enlisting the support of a husband or wife, son or daughter, who can help their loved one with their medications and other needs.
We are very proud of this unique, individualized approach, which has been successful at improving diabetes control and reinforcing key educational concepts to patients.
As always, thanks for your ongoing support. As a reminder, GlobalGiving is conducting a special Mother's Day campaign from May 1-13. All donations made to this project (or to our other projects, here or here) "in honor of" a loved one during this time will make us eligible for additional funds!
Also, if you are interested in signing up for more regular updates on our work in Guatemala, click here.
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