Diabetes Educator of the Month: Chris Reichert, RN, MS, CDE

Chris Reichert, RN, MS, CDE, is the directorof the Diabetes Care Center at Parkviewin the Parkview Medical Center in Pueblo,Colorado. In 1990, she developed thediabetes program at Parkview and becamea certified diabetes educator in 1992.

The program has been recognizedby the ADA since 1996.

How did the diabetes self-managementeducation program you coordinated in yourcommunity hospital grow to be what it istoday?

Our program started with just me in a half-timeposition in 1990, and it has grownto include two RN/CDEs, one RD/CDE, anoffice manager, and occasional part-timestaff as needed. We have grown because ofcommunity need, an excellent departmentteam, effective marketing, a forward-thinkingresponsive administration and Parkview’sstrong customer service and quality-improvementenvironment.

What gave you the idea to do outreach andfocus on diabetes prevention?

Our hospital lives by Deming’s philosophyof quality improvement. We’re very processoriented. Development of type 2 diabetes(which affects 89 percent of our patients) is aprocess. About five years ago, I began to lookat upstream prevention. Publication of theDiabetes Prevention Program results was ahuge catalyst.

What type of community is Parkviewlocated in?

The city of Pueblo is located about 100 milessouth of Denver. The city has a population ofapproximately 104,000. Forty-four percentof the city’s residents are of Hispanic/Latinoheritage. In the city, 17.8 percent of ourresidents live at poverty level. About 7.8percent of Pueblo County residents havediagnosed diabetes. That increases to 10.4percent when the undiagnosed are added in.With those figures, we estimate that at leastanother 20 percent of our population has pre-diabetes.

How did you go about obtaining grantfunding?

The Colorado Trust funds in-state programsbased on various focused initiatives. Diabetesand diabetes prevention became a focusarea three to four years ago. The programSteps to a Healthier Pueblo was a competitiveprocess for counties to apply in partnershipwith the state health department for federaldollars. The legislative appropriation wassimilar to a grant request and came aboutafter convincing our U.S. representative of theneed.

How are you implementing the outreach,and how will you be measuring its success?

Outcome measures include improvedknowledge about diabetes, reduced BMI andblood pressure and increased physical activityscores. Long-term outcome would includedecreased ER and inpatient admissions due todiabetes complications and decreased (or lessof a rise) in health insurance premiums.

How are you promoting the program?

Word of mouth in Pueblo is huge.Other avenues of promotion includeour diabetes self-management classes,health fairs, physician mailings, bus kiosksand larger billboards, church bulletins,the local newspaper and public serviceannouncements.

What do you hope to do next?

Obviously, to sustain our work throughcontinued grant funding and in-kindcommunity support. We love this communityand its people, and we are passionate abouthelping all of us live more healthfully. Thereis so much positive energy here towardachieving that goal.

The Colorado Trustgrant is a three-yearproject to promoteworksite wellness witha curriculum based ona Diabetes PreventionProgram (DPP).

Steps to a Healthier Pueblois a five-year communityand schools project fundedby the Centers for DiseaseControl and Prevention(CDC). The project’s goalsare to increase physicalactivity, improve nutritionand reduce the prevalenceof obesity, diabetes,asthma and tobacco use.

The third endeavor isa one-year legislativeappropriation to fundseveral projects of thePueblo CommunityDiabetes Project (PCDP),including a diabetesprevention outreachproject based on theDPP curriculum, whichis conducted in smallgroups throughout thecommunity.

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