Local Program Empowers Individuals to Manage Their Diabetes

In the landscape of American healthcare, the prevalence of diabetes looms large, affecting millions of lives and presenting significant challenges to individuals and communities alike. New Mexico faces considerable challenges in this regard, as highlighted by data from the New Mexico Department of Health, indicating a steady increase in the age-adjusted prevalence of diagnosed diabetes over the past decade. This prevalence has risen from 9.6% to 11.2% from 2011 through 2020. This trend highlights the need for comprehensive diabetes management and education programs to support individuals affected by this chronic condition. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), diabetes remains a pressing public health concern, with over 38.4 million adults in the United States living with the condition. The impact of diabetes extends far beyond its initial diagnosis, often intertwining with a myriad of coexisting conditions and complications that further exacerbate its toll on individuals’ health and well-being. As we navigate the complexities of diabetes management and care, it becomes increasingly evident that holistic approaches are needed to address the multifaceted needs of those affected by this chronic condition. Holy Cross Medical Center has been taking on the challenge in our region by providing local support for those affected by diabetes. 

The Diabetes Management Team. Left to Right: Angela Torres, Jennifer Brock, Neal Friedman, LoriAnn Cortez, and Alex Troncoso.

Led by a dedicated team of care providers, the Diabetes Management and Nutrition Department at Holy Cross Medical Center is committed to empowering individuals with the knowledge and tools to manage their diabetes effectively. From education and support to personalized interventions, the department strives to improve the health and well-being of every patient it serves.

Angela Torres is the Clinical Coordinator and Department Manager, she has been leading the team since 2021. The program has been accredited since June 1, 2001 and was led by Susan Kargula until she retired. Angela graduated from Penasco High School and moved to Albuquerque where she completed her PharmD at the University of New Mexico. She later moved to New York City and completed a residency. She returned to Taos to raise her family and discovered the need for her services in Diabetes Management.

“Considering the high rates of diabetes in New Mexico, I felt the need to shift my career path and specialize in diabetes care.”

– Angela Torres

Under the careful guidance of Dr. Niel Friedman, Medical Director of the program, Angela and her team offer a diverse range of services. Alex Troncoso is a registered dietitian, Jennifer Brock is a registered nurse and Lori Ann Cortez is the administrative assistant that keeps the department running, and Kelsey Chmil works at Holy Cross Hospital as the inpatient dietitian and diabetes educator.

Torres emphasizes the compassionate approach of the Diabetes Management team, “Not only are they passionate about what they do, but they empathize to help develop the skills needed for self management. I feel so lucky to have them on my team.” 

At the core of the department’s mission is a commitment to personalized care. Through compassionate assessment of each patient’s health, family history, and lifestyle factors, the team creates tailored care plans designed to meet individual needs. Whether someone is living with pre-diabetes, gestational diabetes, type 1 diabetes, or type 2 diabetes, the department offers comprehensive support and guidance every step of the way.

One of the key services offered is nutrition counseling. Holy Cross currently has two registered dietitians offering patients personalized guidance on healthy eating habits and meal planning. Kelsey Chmil and Alex Troncos play a pivotal role in guiding patients towards healthier lifestyles. With a focus on education and empowerment, patients learn how different foods affect their blood sugar levels and how to make healthier choices for long-term wellness.

In addition to nutrition counseling, the department offers a range of interventions aimed at improving blood glucose management. From strategies to increase physical activity to the latest in medical interventions, glucose-monitoring technology and insulin pumps patients have access to a comprehensive array of resources designed to support their health journey. Additionally, the department offers inpatient education coverage for individuals newly diagnosed with type 1. 

Beyond clinical services, the department fosters community engagement through initiatives like the Dexcom Pro group class, Diabetes Type 1 support group, ADA Camp 180 for kids, and collaborations with local schools. The Dexcom Pro group is an interactive session that provides patients with valuable insights into the factors influencing blood sugar levels and fosters a sense of camaraderie among participants. By empowering patients with knowledge and self-awareness, the department seeks to promote long-term health and wellness within the community.

As Angela reflects on the department’s impact, she underscores their commitment to personalized care and community support. “We want this community, as well as the surrounding area, to know we are available to help tailor a specific plan to meet individual needs,” she shares warmly. It’s this unwavering dedication to serving the diverse needs of the community that sets Holy Cross’ Diabetes Management and Nutrition Department apart.

For those seeking guidance and support in managing diabetes and improving their nutrition, Holy Cross Medical Center’s Diabetes Management and Nutrition Department is here for the community. With a compassionate team of professionals and a comprehensive array of services, they are committed to nurturing health and wellness in our region. A referral is necessary to receive care, but Lori Ann is happy to help you understand your options. Call (575) 751-5769 or learn more at https://holycrossmedicalcenter.org/locations/holy-cross-hospital/diabetes-management/

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