March 15, 2019 by John Fernandez
Sweet Life Club: Teaching Patients How to Live With Diabetes (Video)
Being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes after a routine bloodwork can become a life-altering event. Just ask Ines Fuenmayor, 27, who got the news one day after an annual checkup.
“They ran the bloodwork like they do every year,” recalls Ms. Fuenmayor (pictured above). “And they came back and all of my levels were out of whack. I was told I had diabetes, which kind of freaked me out.”
It would become a positive turning point in her life, she says, with the help of a Baptist Health Primary Care program called Sweet Life Club. Working with primary care physicians, or an endocrinologist, the Sweet Life team consists of a care coach, registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator, and a social worker — all overseen by a primary care doctor.
(Watch now: The Baptist Health News team hears from diabetes patient Ines Fuenmayor and Pascual De Santis, M.D., an endocrinologist with Baptist Health Primary Care, about the Sweet Life Club. Video by Dylan Kyle.)
Sweet Life is designed to help manage or prevent diabetes, educate patients on nutrition and physical activity, improve body composition, reduce or eliminate medication dependency and effectively monitor blood sugar levels.
“My primary doctor, Dr. Feito (Patricia Feito-Fernandez, M.D.), recommended me for the Sweet Life program,” said Ms. Fuenmayor, who has now gained control of her health through a weight-loss regiment which includes regular exercise and healthier eating. “I was extremely interested. I wanted to learn more and find out how I can live with this.”
Pascual De Santis, M.D., an endocrinologist with Baptist Health Primary Care, also consulted Ms. Fuenmayor about managing her diabetes. A normal blood sugar reading is under 100 and a normal A1C level is below 5.7 percent, says Dr. De Santis, as he recalls Ms. Fuenmayor’s diagnosis.
“Her initial fasting blood sugar was over 200,” says Dr. De Santis. “Her hemoglobin (A1C level) was above 9 percent. She was then started on some medicine and she was sent into the (Sweet Life) program. I saw her along the way. I made some recommendations regarding medical therapy, and I had a frank discussion with her about diabetes management.”
The A1C test reflects a person’s average blood glucose (also known as blood sugar) levels over a period of three months. Specifically, the test measures what percentage of your hemoglobin — a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen — is coated with sugar. A higher percentage indicates higher blood glucose levels and a higher risk of diabetes complications.
Dr. De Santis does not hesitate to label Ms. Fuenmayor’s case as a success. “She responded really well and got into the program,” he said. “She followed up with the dietitians and the primary care physician after me. As you track her data, you can see her hemoglobin (A1C) drop from over 9 percent to about 5.7 percent. That’s a significant drop. And she had some significant weight loss. She dropped over 17 pounds in a couple of months.”
Ms. Fuenmayor says she is feeling much more physically fit. She says she can walk long distances without getting winded, a problem she had before her weight loss and dietary modifications.
“I have completely changed everything,” says Ms. Fuenmayor. “I’ve become an active person. I walk a lot more than I did six months ago. I exercise and I’m eating extremely healthy.”