Coaches helping sick patients get well

By Nicole Johnson  bio | email

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A nationwide challenge to improve health and save money. City of Charleston employees, doctors and even a coach are all part of the Diabetes Ten City Challenge.

Charleston Stormwater Division worker Cleveland Middleton found out he had type two diabetes after suffering blurry vision and obesity. Two years ago he went up for the challenge, first pairing up with a coach.

"My work clothes have been altered. I lost my stomach, so my results have been tremendous for me. It feels great," Middleton said.

Middleton has dropped nearly 80 pounds. He's cured of the eye disease glaucoma, and his high blood sugar is under control.

Middleton meets up with pharmacist James Sterrett once a month. These "coaches" help patients come up with ways to meet healthy goals involving fitness and diet and managing medications to get the best outcome.

"They're on multiple medications, and it's often very confusing, and so we make sure they understand exactly how to use those, as well as insulin. Insulin can be very dangerous if it's not used appropriately," Dr. Sterrett said.

It's all part of a City of Charleston program called the Diabetes Ten City Challenge, a study to determine if the pharmacist coaching could make a difference in preventing major diabetes related illness.

"The data from the Ten City shows that we can save over $1,000 in medical costs per participant. We are hoping to follow that same trend," Registered Nurse with the City of Charleston Wellness Program Jan Park said.

A savings for the City of Charleston, when patients like Middleton can prevent bigger health problems.

"We must manage our diabetes. We can control it. The coaches the doctors they can only tell us about it, it becomes an individual priority of life," Middleton said.

It's a priority of life that patients are making with help from doctors and their pharmacist coach.

Park with the City of Charleston says results of the financial savings from this study could come back in a month, and she says blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels are reduced thanks to doctor visits and meetings with these pharmacist coaches.

Other area employers like the town of Mount Pleasant, Charleston Water Systems, and Piggly Wiggly also offer this pharmacy coaching to its employees.

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