Diabetes and COVID-19: What You Need to Know

An estimated 34 million people in the United States are living with Diabetes. These people face an increased risk of complications if they contract the virus that causes COVID-19.

“For months we have known that people with diabetes are at heightened risk during COVID,” says Tracey D. Brown, CEO of the American Diabetes Association. “As many as 40 percent of the COVID fatalities – 120,000 Americans – have been people with diabetes, and more in our community may be at risk of the worst of the virus’ effects because so many are now unable to manage their diabetes effectively.”

In a recent study released by the American Diabetes Association in partnership with Thrivable and the Diabetes Daily community, the financial and economic toll of the pandemic has left scores of Americans with diabetes without access to the drugs, devices, insurance, and food that they need to properly manage their diabetes or even survive during this time.

In support, Saint Barnabas Medical Center’s Center for Diabetes Wellness and Prevention offers classes in self-management education, taught by certified diabetes educators who are specifically trained to work with such patients. Each group class includes eight hours of diabetes education taught over four sessions and a one-hour support group one month following the class. Individual nutrition and diabetes counseling sessions are available as well. Diabetes self-management education and support provides a foundation to help persons with diabetes navigate the decisions of self-care and has been shown to improve health outcomes. During the public health emergency these classes are being held virtually which has been a great success, welcomed by the community and have increased access to care.

“We teach each person with diabetes everything they need to know about how to manage their chronic condition,” says Jennifer Meyers, a registered dietitian, diabetes care and education specialist and clinical coordinator for the Center for Diabetes Wellness and Prevention. “We have fantastic outcomes in terms of blood sugar improvements, increased patient knowledge and improved quality of life.”

In addition to helping persons with diabetes, The Center has received national recognition from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for its efforts aimed at preventing Type 2 diabetes with a program called “Prevent T2.” This is geared toward the estimated 88 million U.S. adults who have prediabetes, a condition in which blood sugars are elevated but not high enough to be diagnosed as Type 2 diabetes. Having prediabetes places patients at an increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes without lifestyle intervention.

“It is imperative that people living with diabetes have the resources to manage it properly, as well as continue to follow social distancing guidelines, mask compliance and receive the vaccine as instructed by their physician,” says Ms. Meyers.

The Center for Diabetes Wellness and Prevention is located at the Barnabas Health Ambulatory Care Center, 200 South Orange Avenue, Livingston, NJ. To make an appointment with a certified diabetes educator or learn more about support programs and classes, please call 973-322-7007.