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Diabetes Education

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If you are interested in participating in Avera St. Mary's Diabetes Education program or would like more information please call 605-224-3425.

Having diabetes can be scary, but managing your diabetes is critically important to your health. That's why Avera St. Mary's has a full time Diabetes Education nurse on staff.

Diabetes education, also called diabetes self-management training, gives people with diabetes the knowledge, skills and tools they need to successfully manage their diabetes and avoid many of the complications associated with the disease.

Educators provide comprehensive care to patients with diabetes. They counsel patients on how to incorporate healthy eating and physical activity into their life. They also help patients understand how their medications work, teach them how to monitor their blood glucose to avoid the risk of complications, and give them the ability to problem solve and adjust emotionally to diabetes.

Diabetes Educators put the focus on the patient. By getting to know them as an individual, they are able to help create a self-management plan that meets their needs - one based on age, school or work schedule, as well as daily activities, family demands, eating habits and health problems.

Avera St. Mary's Diabetes Education program is Nationally recognized by the American Diabetes Association. 

Self-Care Behaviors

Measurable behavior change is the desired outcome of diabetes education. Avera St. Mary's Diabetes Education Program follows the American Association of Diabetes Educators' (AADE) Care Behaviors framework, which focuses on the following seven self-care behaviors:

  1. Healthy Eating - Making healthy food choices, understanding portion sizes and learning the best times to eat are central to managing diabetes. By making appropriate food selections, children and teenagers grow and develop as they would if they didn't have diabetes.
  2. Being Active - Regular activity is important for overall fitness, weight management and blood glucose control.
  3. Monitoring - Daily self-monitoring of blood glucose provides people with diabetes the information they need to assess how food, physical activity and medications affect their blood glucose levels. Diabetes education classes instruct patients about equipment choice and selection, timing and frequency of testing, target values, and interpretation and use of results.
  4. Taking Medication - Diabetes is a progressive condition. Depending on what type a person has, their healthcare team will be able to determine which medications they should be taking and help them understand how your medications work. They can demonstrate how to inject insulin or explain how diabetes pills work and when to take them. Effective drug therapy in combination with healthy lifestyle choices, can lower blood glucose levels, reduce the risk for diabetes complications and produce other clinical benefits.
  5. Problem Solving - Collaboratively, diabetes educators and patients address barriers, such as physical, emotional, cognitive, and financial obstacles and develop coping strategies.
  6. Reducing Risks - Effective risk reduction behaviors such as smoking cessation, and regular eye, foot and dental examinations reduce diabetes complications and maximize health and quality of life. An important part of self-care is learning to understand, seek and regularly obtain an array of preventive services.
  7. Healthy Coping - An important part of the diabetes educator's work is identifying the individual's motivation to change behavior, then helping set achievable behavioral goals and guiding the patient through multiple obstacles. They can provide support by encouraging you to talk about your concerns and fears and can help you learn what you can control and offer ways for you to cope with what you cannot.

Diabetes Facts and Statistics


  • Diabetes is the 5th leading cause of death in America.
  • Overall, the risk of death for people with diabetes is about 2 times that for people without diabetes.


  • 20.8 million Americans have diabetes, although 6.2 million of those are undiagnosed.
  • Each day, approximately 2,200 people are diagnosed with diabetes.
  • Type 2 diabetes accounts for up to 95 percent of all diabetes cases, affecting 8 percent of the population age 20 and older. The prevalence of type 2 diabetes has tripled in the last 30 years, much of it due to an upsurge in obesity.
  • Diabetes afflicts 120 million people worldwide, and the World Health Organization estimates that number to skyrocket to 300 million by 2025.

Economic Impact

  • The annual cost of diabetes in medical expenditures and lost productivity climbed from $98 billion in 1997 to $132 billion in 2002.
  • The per capita annual costs of health care for people with diabetes rose from $10,071 in 1997 to $13,243 in 2002, an increase of more than 30 percent. In contrast, health care for people without diabetes amounted to $2,560 in 2002.

Potential Complications

Prevention Potential for Diabetes Complications 

Potential Complications Percent Preventable
Kidney failure 50%
(with better control of blood pressure and blood
glucose levels)
Blindness up to 90%
(with proper screening and care)
Amputation up to 85%
(with implementation of foot care programs that include regular examinations and patient education)
Death due to heart disease or stroke up to 30%
(with improved control of blood pressure, blood
glucose and lipid levels)
Heart disease and stroke up to 50%
(with improved control of blood pressure and
cholesterol and lipid levels)
Nerve disease 40%
(with a 1% reduction in hemoglobin A1c test)