Galen Diabetes Initiative

As members of one of the largest medical groups in the Chattanooga area, physicians in the Galen Medical Group are on the front lines fighting the common diseases and ailments that confront their patients. They see first hand the growing threat to health and longevity from diabetes, one of the fastest growing health issues in America today. “The Centers for Disease Control reports that the number of diabetes cases diagnosed among adults has risen 40% since 1997,” says Donna Neves, RN, director of Galen’s diabetes education program. “It is a national problem, but one that significantly impacts the Chattanooga area.”

Diabetes mellitus describes a group of diseases characterized by high levels of glucose—or sugar—in the blood. Type 1 diabetes, or insulin-dependent diabetes, usually appears in children and adolescents. About 5 to 10 percent of all new cases of diabetes are type 1. Type 2 diabetes is commonly called adult-onset diabetes, the type that is most commonly diagnosed in the Chattanooga region.

“Adult-onset diabetes is the growing problem,” continues Donna Neves. “As people age, too much weight, poor diets, too little exercise and family history begin to catch up with them. At Galen our doctors diagnose hundreds of new diabetes mellitus cases each year. Unfortunately, there are thousands more out in the community who have diabetes, perhaps in an early stage, who don’t yet know it.”

To combat the growing problem, Galen launched its diabetes education program with Neves at the helm. She works with Galen physicians to present a curriculum that helps patients treat and control their disease. Neves starts new classes each month at the Galen corporate office in Eastgate Town Center.

Galen’s diabetes program helps patients understand how sugar is produced and processed in the body, and the positive and negative effects that come from food and exercise choices.  Each member of the class also receives a state of the art blood glucose monitor and instruction on how to use it.  Classes, which include a personal discussion with a Galen doctor, also teach the importance of dental, foot and skin care—important information for diabetics who, because of varying levels of sugar in their blood, can have a difficult time healing from simple wounds and infections. 

“Every person with diabetes should attend a diabetes education class,” stresses Neves, who adds that is the recommendation of the American Diabetes Association and most medical associations.  A physician referral or pre-registration is required to participate in the Galen class.  Insurance usually pays most or all of the tuition cost.