At four years old Rachelle Gorecki was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. With no history of diabetes or previous experience with the disease, Gorecki’s family turned to the Diabetes Education Centre (DEC) to learn how to manage her illness.
The DEC is an outpatient program of the North Bay Regional Health Centre (NBRHC), located in the community, offering comprehensive diabetes education and support by specialized staff. The North Bay location, and two part time satellite programs located in Sturgeon Falls and Mattawa, support clients in North Bay, Sturgeon Falls, Mattawa and other communities within Nipissing District.
Patients can self-refer, or be referred by their primary care provider and other allied health care professionals, to access many services including individual consultation, group education classes, pregnancy and diabetes counseling, the pediatric diabetes program, insulin pump training and support programs, and the endocrinology clinic.
Sandra Kilroy, Registered Dietitian – Certified Diabetes Educator says there can be a steep learning curve for someone newly diagnosed with diabetes. “There is a lot to learn,’ Kilroy says. “Fortunately our centre has a multidisciplinary team of specially trained care providers to provide our clients with comprehensive care.”
It is this multidisciplinary team—which includes registered nurses, registered dietitians, a social worker and admin support—who work together to deliver comprehensive, client centred diabetes education & support services. This team liaises with health care providers in the community (such as physicians, nurse practitioners, pharmacists, optometrists, and in-home care providers) to help clients meet their needs.
Kilroy describes diabetes management education as a journey. “As with managing any chronic illness, there can be many challenges,” Kilroy explains. “Our goal is to provide people with the tools to become effective self-managers, and when there are bumps along the way, we are there to support them through those bumps.”
After her diagnosis as a young child, Gorecki learned how to test her blood sugars and even took over giving herself insulin injections. “My mom did the first needle and I did all the rest,” she remembers. “I hated having someone else do the needles.”
Managing a chronic illness 24/7 is never easy. Teenagers in particular often find it difficult to balance diabetes management in their life and can often resent feeling burdened by tests, injections and appointments.
Gorecki admits she experienced these challenges with her diabetes management as a teenager and stopped using the services of the Centre. After a few years of what Gorecki describes as ‘neglecting her health’, as a young adult she made the decision to resume services at the Centre. “I was very nervous because it had been a while,” she says. “I was emotional about going back because I was embarrassed I had stopped going.” Gorecki was relieved when she arrived and said Kilroy was so supportive—and she has been regularly using the services ever since. Gorecki has recently entered a new stage in her journey with the birth of her daughter Julia earlier this year.
Kilroy has been with the Diabetes Education Centre since the program’s inception in 1995. In that time, she says she has been fortunate to see clients like Gorecki transition from the pediatrics education program to the adult diabetes education program. “Our goal as Diabetes Educators is to empower individuals to be self-managers of their chronic disease—it is with them 24/hours a day, 7 days a week.” She says that like Gorecki did, staff at the Centre hope that when clients have struggles, they will access the Centre for support and guidance when they need it.
And Kilroy says Gorecki is an example of someone who has done just that. “I am always in awe of Rachelle’s diligence in the management of her diabetes,” Kilroy says. “She is very attentive to her diabetes and really is a good example of someone who has embraced knowledge and application. It’s wonderful to see her with her beautiful daughter, I feel very privileged, I really do.”