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CompleteCare’s Diabetes Self-Management Program

A spike in blood sugar could have jeopardized Yvonne Murphy’s job as a school bus driver. CompleteCare put her on track with a treatment plan.

Yvonne Murphy is a beloved school bus driver in South Jersey. For years, she has driven to and from four schools a day — 150 miles — with kids of all ages. She kept up this grueling schedule even after being diagnosed with diabetes a decade ago. Then, early in 2018, things took a turn for the worse.

Her blood sugar level rose to the point where Yvonne’s bus driving job was in jeopardy. Because she would have to start taking insulin, she would need a special waiver to keep her bus license. That would take time and result in lost wages. But there was another, healthier course of action and, after years of paying little attention to her doctors’ advice, she decided to make a lifestyle U-turn.

“This was the wake-up call that I needed to make a change, so I went to CompleteCare to help me get on track with a treatment plan and avoid needing insulin,” Yvonne said.

For the first time, she would make her own health as important as safely transporting schoolchildren every day. CompleteCare, a network of health facilities and health care professionals in Cumberland, Cape May and Gloucester counties, provides numerous medical services, including the Diabetes Self-Management Program that helped Yvonne.

Through the program, Yvonne learned how to create a weekly meal plan, monitor her calorie intake and read the nutrition information on food labels to make healthy choices. She gets information on portion control and how to incorporate whole wheat, fruits and vegetables into her diet on a budget. After being told the importance of exercise in controlling her illness, Yvonne started doing yard work, blending her love for gardening with physical activity.

In keeping with its mission to support organizations that make New Jersey healthier, The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey provided CompleteCare, based in Bridgeton, with a $65,000 grant to fund the Diabetes Self-Management Program (and Tomando Control de Salud for Spanish-speaking patients), an evidence-based set of interventions developed by Stanford University. Through highly participative two-and-a-half hour classes once a week for six weeks, the program helps nearly 5,000 diabetes patients and their family members and caregivers control diabetes by:

  • Identifying ways to deal with symptoms such as pain, fatigue and stress, and emotional problems like depression, anger, fear and frustration;
  • Exercise that improves strength and endurance;
  • Healthy eating habits;
  • Appropriate use of medication; and
  • Working more effectively with health care providers.

Now that her diabetes is under control and she’s still driving her bus, Yvonne stays in close touch with the people who helped her. “When I call with an issue, all of the doctors there know me, and they take time to listen to my concerns,” she said. “They are always very attentive to my needs and give me the guidance and advice that I need to help me make the right choices.”