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Critical Education Helps Families Manage Diabetes

Thursday, April 22, 2021

By Adam, a Children's National parent

Our 10-year old son Matt had been thirsty and losing weight for weeks. He could barely move when we arrived at the Children’s National Hospital emergency department. My wife, Amy, thinks of that drive as the worst 15 minutes of her life.

Matt was in life-threatening diabetic ketoacidosis. Staff moved him to the hospital’s pediatric intensive care unit within five minutes of our arrival. I was scared when the doctors diagnosed Matt with type 1 diabetes. It’s never easy to accept that your child has a lifelong illness.

But support, comfort and comprehensive care from Children’s National helped us feel confident that we could manage Matt’s diabetes. Hospital staff gave us critical education about this chronic disease and treatment methods. The better I understood things as they related to the disease — such as regulating hormones, carbohydrate intake, insulin and diet — the better I could help Matt. We took classes at the hospital and learned so much.

We also realized that many families didn’t have the luxury of taking time away from work to attend classes or receive support from a school nurse. Diabetes is very time consuming and expensive to manage. I was amazed by the lengths some parents had to go to care for their children.

Matt is 16 now and thriving. When we learned that his primary diabetes care provider, Dr. Fran Cogen, had begun building a program that would enable more patient families to benefit from a proactive model of care, we didn’t hesitate to support her efforts at Children’s National.

Dr. Cogen’s Diabetes Transformational Care Model is a way to expand access to holistic diabetes care to more children. The program will especially help families with limited resources access care from diabetes health coaches at Children’s National. Much of the coaching will take place via telehealth, which the global pandemic has made increasingly important. The pandemic has also highlighted inequities in access to the tools and resources kids with diabetes need.

I’m not a doctor or a scientist, but I know that her model provides families something vitally important to any parent: the opportunity to make sure our children are safe, healthy and have the best possible quality of life. Dr. Cogen and others on staff have helped us overcome every obstacle we’ve encountered along our diabetes journey — we donated to help pay that care forward.

To learn more or support the Diabetes Transformational Care Model at Children’s National, please contact: Mika Standard, Senior Director, Major Gifts, Mika.Standard@childrensnational.org.


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