MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – November is American Diabetes Month. According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA) more than 37 million children and adults have diabetes in the United States. In West Virginia, they estimate more than 220,000 people, 15 percent of the adult population, have been diagnosed with diabetes and another 45,000 are unaware they have it.
The WVU Medicine Diabetes Education Center (DEC) is ADA accredited and works diligently to positively affect the health of those living with the disease through inpatient and outpatient services, including blood glucose monitoring, insulin and non-insulin injection training, hypoglycemia treatment, meal planning and carbohydrate counting, medication management, and physical activity counseling.
Patients must be referred by their primary care, endocrinology, inpatient, or emergency medicine provider to receive services.
For Dominick Barbetta, 66, from Clarksville, Pennsylvania, this referral would have been made sooner if he had sought diagnosis when his doctor first mentioned it to him.
“He had been on me about it for a while,” Barbetta said.
His family history combined with complaints of persistent fatigue were enough for Barbetta’s doctor to suggest the screening. First-hand knowledge of the dangers of uncontrolled diabetes finally were enough to make Barbetta act and get help.
“My grandmother lost her leg,” he recalled and added that maintaining an active lifestyle is important to him. Now retired, he is an avid fisherman, works on his farm daily, and enjoys spending time outdoors.
Barbetta completed a two-day class at the DEC and said he learned a lot, including how to check his sugar, what to eat, and how his food choices can affect his levels. He credits DEC staff with educating him on continuous glucose monitors and the process for requesting one from insurance. They even helped him work through some initial issues he had setting up the device.
“They are nice people,” Barbetta said. “They told me if I need anything to stop in and see them.”
Now a couple months into actively managing the disease, he has lost 12 pounds, feels fuller and more satisfied after he eats, and has renewed energy.
Emily Smaniotto, B.S.N., R.N., C.D.C.E.S., coordinator of the DEC, said Barbetta’s experience is what she and her team want to see for all their patients.
“All of our diabetes educators are passionate about the care they provide and the lives they influence,” she said. “We love to see our patients succeed in managing their diabetes, and if they are struggling or need support, that’s what we are here for."
Diabetes education is more than a profession for Smaniotto, as she, too, has diabetes.
“I have been living with Type 1 Diabetes for 20 years,” she said. “I enjoy helping others with diabetes, especially introducing them to the latest technology.”
DEC efforts extend to the community. They manage a support group for individuals affected by Type 1 Diabetes, a newsletter for those affected by Type 2, and supported the recent JDRF Community One Walk in Morgantown, which Smaniotto chaired and raised money for juvenile diabetes research.
This summer, representatives from WVU Medicine’s Diabetes Education Center traveled to the 2023 Association of Diabetes Care and Education Specialist (ADCES) Conference, held in Houston, where Smaniotto and Mary Treadway, M.S.N., C.D.C.E.S., A.P.R.N., F.N.P.-B.C., inpatient diabetes educator at WVU Medicine Camden Clark Medical Center, presented posters.
“We wanted to point out all the great diabetes providers from the state and the educators that work for WVU Medicine,” Treadway said. “They are the heartbeat of stopping the epidemic of pre-diabetes and Type 2 diabetes mellitus.”
Smaniotto and Treadway are also co-leading revitalization efforts for the ADCES West Virginia Coordinating Body/Local Networking Group, a hub for networking, education, and professional development for local diabetes care and education specialists.
For more information on the WVU Medicine Diabetes Education Center, click here.