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It’s November – Time to Get Educated About Diabetes at Community Health

CHCRR, Community Health Centers, DiabetesAt Community Health, American Diabetes Month is a time to spotlight diabetes awareness, education and care management. The American Diabetes Association says, “It’s our chance to show the world what life with diabetes is really like and provide ways to manage it.” Community Health agrees that it’s time to get educated!

“Prevention is really important, and the key is education,” said Community Health Certified Case Manager (CCM) Maria Bilinski, RN.  “That’s why the complex care management program for diabetes is being developed. Diabetes is one of those silent killers,” she said. “You can have sub-optimally controlled diabetes for a number of years without feeling too unwell, until the disease progresses and complications advance.”

Diabetes is a disease that affects the whole body, including the cardiovascular, pulmonary, kidneys, eyes and circulatory systems and is one of the comorbidities identified by the Vermont Department of Health. In Rutland County, diabetes affects 13% of the population, according to the Community Health Needs Assessment released in 2021.

Education plus technology combined with care management support can mean a complete turnaround in wellness. Bilinski has seen how step-by-step, patients can learn to manage their diabetes. Health care providers and diabetes educators at Community Health help patients keep on track and stay motivated. “My goal,” Bilinski said, “is to teach people living with diabetes how to make sustainable life-style modifications that lead to long-term wellness and reduce their risk of long-term complications.”

Community Health Certified Case Manager (CCM) Maria Bilinski, RN

Community Health Certified Case Manager (CCM) Maria Bilinski, RN

Bilinski’s complex care management program provides an individualized approach, giving her flexibility to tailor the program to the individual, providing diabetes self-management education through face-to-face office visits, telephone or virtual visits, via secure email and home visits for those who are homebound. Engaging the support system for people living with diabetes is critical to improving outcomes.

“I was working with a patient whose A1c was 14%, which is well above target,” said Bilinski. “It was recommended to the patient’s primary care provider to start glucose monitoring.” After a combination of education and glucose monitoring, the patient’s A1c improved significantly in three months.

Continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) is a new tool. Instead of poking a finger to get a blood sample, a subcutaneous patch provides real time glucose readings every one to five minutes. The device transmits low glucose alarms to the patient and can alert a family member as well, providing a safety net for someone in crisis.

As a Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist, Community Health Quality Coordinator Michele Redmond, RN, BSN, CDCES, said as the technology is developing, so are the educational resources, support groups and self-care programs. Redmond manages Community Health’s diabetes education program which includes a team of certified specialists who conduct individual education in person and virtually. The pandemic paused the group meetings, but Redmond says the goal is to resume them in the future. “We hope to cover a variety of diabetes topics and invite guest speakers such as a physical therapist, an exercise science student from Castleton University, a dietician, dentist or ophthalmologist. It would allow patients to sit amongst their peers and work out areas where they are struggling,” Redmond said.

Community Health’s diabetes educators, Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialists (CDCES), teach how diet and exercise can help manage diabetes. They’ll refer patients to programs like the Farmacy Project that encourages healthy eating habits by providing locally grown vegetables and fruit during the summer season.

Complex care management provides an opportunity to focus on education and prevention, using the newest tools available. Along with self-management, digital tools and access to health care data, Community Health has a plan for increasing awareness and getting diabetes under control.

Be sure to ask your primary care provider about diabetes and prediabetes. Learn more about diabetes education at Community Health on our website and download our Managing Diabetes brochure.

Maria Bilinski, RN, CCM, a Certified Care Manager, joined Community Health in 2017. She is a graduate of the Vermont Technical School nursing program and is studying to obtain certification as a diabetes care and education specialist.

Michele Redmond, RN, BSN, CDCES is Community Health’s Quality Coordinator and a Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist. She manages the diabetes education program at Community Health.

Community Health is Vermont’s largest FQHC (Federally Qualified Health Center), a network of primary care, pediatric, behavioral health, dental and pharmacy services with offices in Rutland, Brandon, Castleton, West Pawlet and Shoreham. Community Dental offices are located in Rutland and Shoreham; Community Kids Dental and Community Health Pediatrics  are in Rutland; and Behavioral Health services are available at all of our locations. Community Health Express Care centers, open 7 days a week, are located at the Rutland and Castleton Community Health Centers.

All Community Health locations are open and accepting patients. For more information about career opportunities, hours and Community Health locations check our website

Your Health, Our Mission

The mission of Community Health is to be the foremost integrated community health center providing quality and collaborative care that is accessible to all people, in order to live their best lives and build stronger communities.

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