Since 2015, Salus University and The Eye Institute (TEI) has been offering a series of free diabetes education courses first in partnership with Penn State and most recently with the Temple Diabetes Program. Hosted by Casey Dascher, MBA, RD, LDN, CDE, diabetes educator with Temple University Hospital, the most recent series included a faculty member from the University’s Physician Assistant (PA) Studies program to discuss medications, systemic effects, and biometrics (including height, weight, blood pressure, HgbA1c testing); and from the University’s Osborne College of Audiology to discuss how diabetes affects hearing.Laptop

After in-person classes were cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Real World Diabetes (RWD) team quickly pivoted to develop a modified online version of the new curriculum to run as a pilot. Individuals who signed up for in-person classes were re-contacted to see if they were interested in helping to pilot an online version. Out of the seven who signed up for the classes, five attended.

Because the planned biometric testing was not able to be offered, individual intake appointments for each participant were added with Casey Dascher, prior to the start of classes.
Online RWD delivered through the HIPAA-compliant telemedicine application began June 26, 2020 with five sequential classes followed by the sixth and final check-back-in class on September 11, 2020.

Participants in the online program learned about medications used to manage diabetes, what to do when blood sugar is too high or too low, how to prevent complications, meal planning, how to read food labels and how to identify which foods raise blood sugar and which ones do not. Additionally, there were sessions on dining out/ordering in with diabetes, systemic effects of diabetes, including on vision and hearing, how to exercise safely, and stress management.Woman reading nutrition label

Over 34 million Americans have diabetes, while 8 million people aged 18 years or older have prediabetes (34.5% of the adult U.S. population) according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In the last 20 years, the number of adults diagnosed with diabetes has more than tripled. Those who suffer from diabetes are at a higher risk for serious eye conditions including cataracts, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy as well as hearing and/or vestibular loss.

Salus University Health partnered with Temple Health to provide this educational program to teach participants the important aspects of managing diabetes and tips for an overall healthier lifestyle.