By Jodie Pepin, PharmD/Clinical Pharmacy Program Director and Diane Plas, FNP-C/Certified Family Nurse Practitioner
When 61-year-old Joseph Dean moved to Central Texas in 2023, one of the first thing he did was look for a primary care physician. Fortunately for him, he found a team at Harbor Health that was prepared to help him on his health journey. He knew he had type 2 diabetes and was ready to take charge of his health after neglecting it for more than two years while he cared for his mother in Florida. When he came into the Harbor Health clinic, he had a thorough wellness exam that showed he had extremely high cholesterol, dangerously high blood glucose, and high blood pressure.
“I knew I was not taking care of my diabetes,” said Joseph Dean. “I did not feel as if I could trust doctors with my care. I didn’t connect with any of my doctors, and I felt like they didn’t know me.”
Joseph was immediately surrounded by a Harbor Health team made up of a registered nurse, a family nurse practitioner (FNP), and a pharmacist. They all collaborated with him to design a care plan that worked for his lifestyle. The Harbor Health nurse coordinated referrals to ophthalmology, podiatry, and endocrinology specialists to check for any damage due to his uncontrolled diabetes. The pharmacist met with him and devised a plan to reduce the number of medications he was taking. Joseph was taking 12 medications to get his blood glucose on a downward trend and manage his blood pressure and high cholesterol. The nurse practitioner also gave him a prescription for a continuous glucose monitor to track his blood glucose without doing traditional finger sticks.
“From the moment I walked into the Harbor Health clinic, everyone made me feel comfortable,” said Dean. “Even the people at the front desk and the person who took my blood in the lab made me feel like I really mattered. Then the providers were straight with me and made sure I understood what was truly happening with my health.”
The Harbor Health Team Approach
This is where the Harbor Health team approach kicked in to support Joseph in his quest to feel better. He started meeting with his provider (FNP), nurse, and pharmacist weekly in virtual meetings, telephone calls, and emails for support and to review his progress. He worked on changing behaviors and following the care plan we created for him. They also worked with him on nutrition choices and the timing of meals that fit with his work and sleep schedule. After only about 6 months, his HgA1c is better than normal at 6.7%. His blood pressure is under control, his cholesterol is lower, he stopped taking five of his 12medications, and he has lost more than 25 pounds!
“I couldn’t look down and see my toes before I started this health journey,” said Dean. “Now I wear smaller-sized shirts and have much more energy at work and at home. I am so thankful they gave me the tools to control my own health. If I moved to Egypt, I’d fly back just to keep working with my Harbor Health team!”
November is Diabetes Awareness Month, a time to shine a light on one of the worst chronic diseases of our population. To find out how you can control your type 2 diabetes like Joseph, by co-creating your health, click here.