It’s November – time to learn about diabetes at Community Health

Rutland – At Community Health, American Diabetes Month is an opportunity to shine a light on diabetes awareness, education and care management. The American Diabetes Association says, “This is our chance to show the world what life with diabetes is really like and provide ways to manage it. Community Health agrees it’s time to get educated!

“Prevention is really important, and the key is education,” said Maria Bilinski, Registered Nurse, Certified Community Health (CCM) Case Manager. “That’s why the Diabetes Complex Care Management Program is being developed. Diabetes is one of those silent killers,” she said. “You can have suboptimal controlled diabetes for a number of years and not feel too bad, until the disease progresses and complications progress.”

Diabetes is a disease that affects the whole body, including the cardiovascular, pulmonary, renal, ocular and circulatory systems and is among 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 and technology combined with care management support can mean a complete wellness turnaround. Bilinski saw how, step by step, patients can learn to manage their diabetes. Community Health healthcare providers and diabetes educators help patients stay on track and motivated. “My goal,” Bilinski said, “is to teach people with diabetes how to make lasting lifestyle changes that lead to long-term wellness and reduce their risk of long-term complications.”

Bilinski’s Complex Care Management Program offers an individualized approach, giving him the flexibility to tailor the program to the individual, providing diabetes self-management education through office visits, telephone or virtual visits , secure email and home visits for those who are housebound. Support system engagement for people living with diabetes is key to improving outcomes.

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

Continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) is a new tool. Instead of pushing a finger for 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 also alert a family member, providing a safety net for someone in crisis.

As a certified specialist in diabetes care and education, Community Health Quality Coordinator Michele Redmond, RN. Redmond manages Community Health’s diabetes education program, which includes a team of certified specialists who provide one-on-one education in person and virtually. The pandemic has halted group meetings, but Redmond says the goal is to resume them in the future. “We hope to cover a variety of diabetes topics and have guest speakers such as a physiotherapist, an exercise science student from Castleton University, a dietician, a dentist or an ophthalmologist. This would allow patients to sit among their peers and work on areas where they are struggling,” Redmond said.

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

Managing complex care provides an opportunity to focus on education and prevention, using the newest tools available. In addition to self-management, digital tools and access to healthcare data, Community Health has a plan to raise awareness and get diabetes under control.

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

Maria Bilinski, RN, CCM, Certified Care Manager, joined Community Health in 2017. She graduated from Vermont Technical School’s nursing program and is studying to obtain certification as a Care and Education Specialist in matter of diabetes.

Michele Redmond, RN, BSN, CDCES is a Community Health Quality Coordinator and Certified Specialist in Diabetes Care and Education. 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 pharmaceutical services with offices in Rutland, Brandon, Castleton, West Pawlet and Shoreham. Community dental practices 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 sites. Community Health Express Care Centers, open 7 days a week, are located at Rutland and Castleton Community Health Centers.

All community health locations are open and accepting patients. For more information on community health career opportunities, hours, and locations, visit our website

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