Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams on Thursday joined hospital leaders and staff in celebrating a record 164 patients who graduated from a program focused on the self-management and prevention of diabetes at NYC Health + Hospitals / Kings County.
In addition to the personal stories shared by several program graduates at the ceremony, achievement awards were presented to recognize personal successes, such as reducing A1C glucose levels.
According to Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn, one of the emotional highlights was the personal experience shared by Adams, who was diagnosed with diabetes in April 2016.
“I was losing my eyesight. I couldn’t see the clock in front of me. My hands were tingling, my feet were tingling. They said that was the beginning of permanent nerve damage,” Adams said. Physically, I looked great, but I didn’t take the internal selfie.
“My body was breaking down slowly, as so many of ours do,” he added. “By the time you see the physical aspects of the disease, that’s when it’s starting to do its real damage.”
With the help from his physician and self-management skills he learned, Adams reported that he is now healthier than he has ever been.
Offered in English, Spanish and Haitian Creole, Kings County Hospital said its Diabetes Self-Management Education Program offers a series of classes, held most recently from September through June.
This year’s graduating class — in the program’s 16th year — was its largest.
With the education and support of a team of doctors, nurses, diabetes educators and nutritionists, Kings County Hospital said participating patients learn how to control blood pressure, reduce A1C blood glucose levels and improve eating habits.
Pre-diabetic patients also learn important skills in preventing diabetes.
“It’s a blessing to play a role in this life-changing education program,” said Suzette Williams, family nurse practitioner, coordinator of the Diabetes Education Program. “With each new class, I get to impart new information and skills to those living with and those supporting people living with diabetes.
“The learning goes both ways, as we help participants both dispel myths they bring to our sessions and learn healthy behaviors, while they challenge our team to continue finding better ways to help them more effectively,” she added.
Several graduating patients — including Khalie Zacharie, who also works at Kings County Hospital — were recognized for achieving excellent results during the program.
“When I was first diagnosed, I thought it was the end of the world, but with support, it was easier,” he said. “I changed my lifestyle. I now cook, and it’s better for me and my children.”
Kings County Hospital Chief Nursing Officer, Opal Sinclair-Chung, thanked the graduates for their confidence and for trusting in the staff.
“We are here to take care of our community,” she said. “We don’t want to dictate; we want to be your partner.”