Providing Better Support for Diabetes Patients During COVID-19 Pandemic
COVID-19 is a serious threat to anyone with chronic health issues like diabetes.
We all know by now that COVID-19 (coronavirus) is a serious public health threat. We also know that older individuals and any individuals with serious chronic health issues like diabetes are at higher risk for complications, should they contract the virus. According to WHO, in China people with diabetes and/or other health issues, such as heart disease, had more serious complications from COVID-19 and a higher death rate.
Individuals with diabetes already face daily challenges in managing their disease, including practicing sick day rules when ill and even being able to access or afford insulin and supplies. This, coupled with the current public health advice to “stock up” on medications, practice social distancing and the knowledge that contracting COVID-19 puts them at great risk for DKA and other complications, is very stressful for both the individual with the disease and also their loved ones.
According to the CDC, 34.2 million Americans have diabetes. At any given time, between 25-45% of hospitalized patients have diabetes and although the hospitalizations maybe for a condition other than diabetes, just having the disease and hyperglycemia puts them at greater risk for hospital-acquired infections, slower healing, longer lengths of stays, etc.
Add COVID-19 to diabetes patients and their risk of other complications goes way up.
Hospitals, outpatient practices, medical device firms, and the pharmaceutical industry can and should take action to provide extra care for those struggling right now. I believe that all of us who work to care for individuals with diabetes have an obligation to provide even more care and support to them during this difficult time.
Below are a few ideas; some are pretty basic and easy, while others are more costly and complex, but now is the time for all of us to get creative and share ideas and commit to implementing changes. Please join us in promoting #diabetesupport throughout your organization and add your ideas and initiatives to the list!
- Educate your diabetes patient population or diabetes industry clients about diabetes and the virus and remind them about diabetes sick day rules.
- Post links to the American Diabetes Association, American Association of Diabetes Care and Education Specialists and American Association of Clinical Endocrinology within your newsletters, within your practice or facilities. Here are a few links:
- Reach out to your diabetes patient population to see if they have adequate insulin/medication supplies.
- Set up a hotline for individuals with diabetes to call if they need support, medications, testing for the virus, etc.
- Provide information on your website or Facebook page about resources to help during social distancing like diabetes virtual support groups, links to the diabetes online communities, etc. Here are some:
- Offer your medical device product or service at a reduced rate or trial period during the pandemic so that individuals that need it most can access.
- Provide a month’s supply of your company’s diabetes or medication to a local hospital for distribution to patients who can’t stock up.
- Conduct an in-service within your organization about how to manage blood glucose levels when individuals with diabetes are ill.
- Ensure that there are policies, protocols and/or technology in place that helps your staff ensure optimal and best practice diabetes management and support for patients.
- Make sure your employees with diabetes who are at higher risk are protected and supported during this time.
The COVID-19 pandemic is challenging everyone and every institution, but we particularly owe the people we serve within the diabetes industry, the people who use our products and services, the people for whom our missions are built, more support during this time.