Diabetes Educator of the Month: Liz Grabowski

Managing the only diabetes facility of its kind in the state of Kentucky is not an easy job, but Liz Grabowski, RN, CDE, MSN, ARNP, loves it.

As owner and clinical director of the Diabetes Resource Center in Louisville, Grabowski provides a much-needed service to people in her state and parts of southern Indiana. Four hundred physicians currently give their patients referrals to the Diabetes Resource Center, which provides education, management, equipment, supplies, and a line of sugar free foods in its small retail area. It also has a lending library with books, periodicals, and videos related to diabetes, and a section that offers free literature from national diabetes organizations and manufacturers. Every facet of the Diabetes Resource Center is open to the public.

“My philosophy is that it’s never too late to get in good control,” says Grabowski.

Part of Grabowski’s work focuses on helping visually impaired people gain independence in their self-care management. In cooperation with the Kentucky Department for the Blind and Indiana Vocational Rehabilitation Services, the Diabetes Resource Center is a vital resource for the visually impaired.

Like many diabetes educators, Grabowski “fell into” her job helping people with diabetes. While working in a hospital in Chicago, she saw what an impact her efforts could have on the lives of people with the disease.

“I saw how much I could accomplish. Diabetes education is a unique area of nursing care. When I worked in critical care, I never got to see patients long enough to see them get well. With this, the more I give of myself, the more results I see.”

The Diabetes Resource Center has been in existence for 11 years, and despite Grabowski’s success, there isn’t much competition in Kentucky. There are durable medical supply companies and home health agencies, but the Diabetes Resource Center is the most comprehensive resource in the area. Grabowski says she would actually welcome competition because she cannot possibly help everyone with diabetes in Kentucky. Louisville is in Jefferson County, and Grabowski estimates that there are more than 45,000 people with diabetes in that county alone.

The number of people who are referred to the Diabetes Resource Center by their physicians has multiplied due to increases in managed care. Accordingly, Grabowski has recently hired more staff and says that “business is brisk.”

In January, Grabowski is scheduled to address diabetes educators in Puerto Rico, and next November she plans to speak in Venezuela. Grabowski, who was born in Poland and still speaks Polish, is also tentatively slated for a speaking engagement in that country.

“Diabetes care in Poland is probably not as good as it is in the United States,” she says. “But since the communists left power, updating is going on at a furious pace. I’m excited about the possibility of instilling in people there [the conviction] that diabetes doesn’t have to be a horrible disease.”

Grabowski says she works approximately 70 hours per week. “It’s a labor of love,” she says. “I’m seeing an explosion of things we can do to help people. People measure ‘success’ by different standards. To me, success is being true to yourself and doing what you love. I’m doing what I love.”

If you’d like to contact the Diabetes Resource Center, write: 4014 Dutchmans Lane, Louisville KY 40207, or call (502) 895-2334.

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