A new program designed to help law enforcement officers identify drivers who may be having a diabetic emergency will begin in Greene County starting June 7.
The “Community Diabetes Alert Program,” sponsored by Takoma Regional Hospital, involves diabetic drivers placing a sticker on their vehicle that would alert officers to their medical condition. The program will help officers recognize diabetes-related emergencies and take appropriate action more quickly.
“Diabetes-related symptoms can resemble intoxication, so this sticker notifies officers of a possible medical condition,” Louisa Hammer, Takoma Regional Hospital’s certified diabetic educator, said.
The program was launched by Wellmont Health System, in collaboration with Mountain State Health Alliance, in November 2009 in Sullivan, Washington and Hawkins counties. Takoma Regional, which is affiliated with Wellmont, will go live with the program in Greene County on June 7.
“This program will soon be going across the state and we’re proud to say it started in Northeast Tennessee,” program creator Jim Perkins, system director of Wellmont Diabetes Treatment Centers, said. “They’re planning to launch it in Knoxville and Nashville, and that’s just the beginning.”
To obtain the free vehicle sticker, patients with diabetes must obtain a prescription from their physician identifying them as diabetics. The prescription can then be redeemed from the receptionist at Takoma Regional’s main entrance for a special “Diabetes Alert” sticker Monday-Friday, 6 a.m.-8 p.m., and Saturday-Sunday, 8 a.m.-6 p.m.
“The patient can also get one if they are referred by their physician to our diabetes self-management class as an outpatient,” Hammer explained.
The sticker should be placed on the lower, inside left corner of the driver’s side rear window. A copy of the prescription will be given to the patient to keep in the automobile at all times to be presented to law enforcement officers if requested.
“The program is designed to be both effective and secure,” Hammer said.
As part of the program, Takoma will provide local law enforcement will additional information about diabetes, including information cards that clearly identify diabetes-related symptoms, as well as appropriate action until emergency personnel arrive.
“Takoma strives to be a leader in patient safety and healthcare quality,” Hammer said. “This new program is just another way we are providing the best health care for our community.”
Takoma also offers an American Diabetes Association-accredited outpatient class for new diabetics. “Our class includes an overview of diabetes, assessment/behavior change, evaluating control, basics of nutrition, acute/chronic complications, basics of exercise, foot/skin care, and a three- and 12-month follow-up session,” Hammer said. “Our diabetes program also includes meter instructions, insulin instructions, gestational diabetes education, and insulin pump training/therapy.”
The classes are taught by Hammer and Joanie Scott, one of the hospital’s registered dietitians.
The hospital also hosts a free, monthly diabetes support group. “We have a different speaker and topic each month,” Hammer said.
The meetings are held in the Everett and Carolyn Coolidge Volunteer Conference Center at 6 p.m. on the first Thursday of each month. “We provide a diabetic-friendly snack and have a drawing each month for a door prize,” Hammer said.
Takoma Regional also is a local sponsor of the “Safe Sharps Program.” As part of the program, area residents can pick up free sharps boxes for disposal of needles, syringes and lancets. The boxes can be picked up from the receptionist at the hospital’s main entrance Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
“Once the boxes are full, patients can return them to the same place and the full box is exchanged for a new sharps box,” Hammer said. “The program is designed to provide a safe, environmentally friendly resource for patients so they wouldn’t throw their needles, syringes or lancets in the trash.”
For more information, please call Louisa Hammer at 636-0308.To register for an outpatient diabetes class, please contact Katie Stevens at 844-2950.