1. Home
  2. About the Health Center Program
  3. Health Center Stories
  4. Diabetes Education Helps to Propel a Missouri Health Center to a National Quality Award

Diabetes Education Helps to Propel a Missouri Health Center to a National Quality Award

Customized plans for each diabetes patient have become a cornerstone of care at Cross Trails Medical Center in Missouri. 

The center recently received a Gold Health Center Quality Award from HRSA, and solid diabetes education is a key factor in its performance. The key is getting to know patients individually and developing tailored plans for them, said Masey Hengst, the clinical director at Cross Trails. 

For example, a diabetes educator has to take a patient’s food budget into account when developing goals. “We can tell them to eat fruits and vegetable all day long, but if they can’t afford it, they’re not going to buy it,” Hengst said. 

Based in Cape Girardeau, in southeast Missouri, the center has four locations in four counties. About 800 of its 10,000 patients are diabetic. 

First visits are in person, but the center has found that about 85 percent of the diabetic patients prefer to have quarterly follow-up visits virtually and telehealth yields better results. “We’ve seen the compliance go up since virtual was introduced,” Hengst said. 

More use of continuous glucose monitors is also boosting compliance. Most insurance plans will cover the monitors, and patients will typically see at least a 1-point decrease in A1C levels when they use the monitors. The staff diabetes educator can help patients interpret the readings and then help to use the information to refine dietary habits and exercise goals. 

Technology can be a major help, but Hengst noted that sometimes a busy patient simply needs to make their own health a priority despite notable family duties. “If you’ve got five mouths to feed, mom is not the top priority.”