In the Know

Teaching Diabetic Employees How to Fish

02.05.2018 Margaret Macias, Executive Director, Center for Health Promotion

"Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day.
Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.”

Chinese Proverb

Learning to live with diabetes is like learning to fish—once you know the right way to do it, you’re set for life.

Diabetes is a Crucial Health Concern in Your Workforce

Your organization employs people who currently have diabetes and people who will develop diabetes in the future. That’s a plain and simple fact. Diabetes is one of the most prevalent and expensive chronic illnesses, and this has huge implications for US employers and workers alike.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 30 million American adults are diagnosed diabetics—almost 10% of the population. Another 70-90 million have prediabetes—most of whom do not even know they are at risk.

Moreover, the financial burden of diabetes on the economy is truly staggering. In 2016, diabetes care cost the US health care system $245 billion. That’s about 8% of total US healthcare spending—exceeded only by cardiovascular disease in terms of direct medical costs. In that same year, the American Medical Association (AMA) asked public (Medicare) and private health care payers to make diabetes prevention programs a covered benefit for pre-diabetic patients—largely to relieve the “fiscal burden associated with the disease.”

Help Your Diabetic Employees Help Themselves

One of the most powerful ways to help your diabetic employees manage their diabetes—and to reduce over time the costs incurred by your business due to employee diabetes--is by helping them find good information, education, and support. That’s where St. Joseph Health’s Center for Health Promotion comes in.

We offer a comprehensive diabetes education program, recognized by the American Diabetes Association (ADA). This is a high achievement in diabetes care. It demonstrates that we offer high-quality education services including state-of-the-art information about diabetes self-management, an essential component of any good diabetes treatment plan.

It’s an interactive program, taught by a dedicated and talented team of certified diabetes educators (CDEs), registered nurses (RNs),and registered dietitians (RDs). The program is designed to cover all aspects of diabetes self-management:

  1. Assessment—We start with a one-hour consultation to assess a patient’s baseline of knowledge—and to cover the medical basics. What do they know about the disease? How well do they understand their diagnosis; and their medications? If they’re self-administering insulin, are they doing the injections correctly.
  1. Group Classes—The Diabetes Wellness course comprises four courses that cover a wide range of information—diabetes medications, blood glucose monitoring, nutrition, physical activity, and general health self-monitoring. We use guided conversations and a lot of interactive exercises so that the information “sticks.” Each student receives a free glucose monitor. Classes are offered in the morning and evening.
  1. Pre-diabetes Class—This class is appropriate for patients with pre-diabetes, impaired glucose intolerance, or anyone wanting to prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes.
  1. Individual Appointments—Patients who require more in-depth counseling—or who have more complex medical conditions—can schedule individual appointments—in English or Spanish.

Our educators also act as intermediaries for patients. We communicate regularly and directly with our physicians so we can help patients access the appropriate resources quickly and efficiently.

Access to a comprehensive, ADA-recognized diabetes education program like ours can be an enormous boon for local employers. Teaching your diabetic employees about their condition and how to make the right care decisions will save money, save time, help avoid unnecessary trips to the doctor or the hospital, and provide them with a significant overall improvement in quality of life.

It’s like the Chinese proverb says—education is key to long-term success. Each of your employees living with diabetes needs both high-quality medical care and the knowledge and everyday decision-making skills that will serve them for a lifetime.

St. Joseph Health offers comprehensive diabetes education through our Center for Health Promotion at two local facilities: Brea and Santa Ana.

For more information—including registration information—please contact the Center for Health Promotion at 714-628-3242 (Santa Ana) or 714-618-9500 (Brea), or email us at