The Fort HealthCare Diabetes Education department introduces a new free monthly education and support group for individuals with diabetes or pre-diabetes, and for anyone that wishes to learn more about diabetes. Loved ones are also welcome to attend. The group will meet on the second Wednesday of each month, beginning on September 12th, from 5:30 – 6:30 p.m. in Classroom A on the Ground Floor of Fort Memorial Hospital. The hospital is located at 611 Sherman Avenue East in Fort Atkinson.

The goal of the education and support group is to provide education and practical tips related to the prevention and management of diabetes. The group can also serve as a social network and provide emotional support and a healthy way to share one’s diabetes experience with others.

Meetings will be in a casual, positive setting, and different topics will be shared each month. Registration is not required, and there is no cost to attend each session. Topics will be about the many aspects of health and wellness related to diabetes.

Current scheduled topics include:

  • Wednesday, September 12: “Getting to know you, and getting to know diabetes.”
  • Wednesday, October 10: “What you need to know about your labs.”
  • Wednesday, November 14: “Eating healthy around the holidays.”
  • Wednesday, December 12: “Fitness and strengthening ideas.”

There are many benefits that can be experienced by participating in a support group:

  • Feel a sense of community and have others to talk to about your feelings, thoughts, and ideas
  • Be around other people who will listen, and express daily struggles, fears, and successes
  • Support groups are designed to be open-minded, positive, and conducted in a non-judgemental atmosphere
  • Participants will share many helpful tips and tricks related to diabetes management
  • Group members share their success stories, give positive feedback, and cheer you on
  • Learn practical coping skills to use in your daily life with diabetes
  • Feelings of stress and anxiety are decreased when you have an outlet to express your concerns
  • Insight is gained for your own goals
  • You can also offer support and valuable information to others in the group, thereby helping those around you as well as yourself

The support group’s facilitator is Shawn Biwer, BSN, RN, Lead Diabetes Educator with Fort HealthCare. Biwer has been an emergency room and later an operatingDiabetes Support Group Flyer 2018 WEB room nurse at Fort HealthCare for over 20 years. Currently as the lead diabetes educator, she gets the chance to work with people in a different stage in their care.

Biwer states, “I have always enjoyed working with people, and now I am excited I get to teach. I find it very rewarding to help people learn about their diabetes and how to manage it every day. What many people don’t realize is small adjustments can make such a big impact. When I can help someone feel better, see positive changes and feel more in control of their health, I am pleased that I was able to be a part of their motivation and success.”

The Fort HealthCare Diabetes Education department helps individuals manage their condition through personalized information, support, and education. Biwer sees patients by appointment at her office at Fort Memorial Hospital. A referral by a healthcare provider and a diagnosis of diabetes is required. Certain health insurances may cover appointments for diagnoses of pre-diabetes. The Diabetes Education program and curriculum is recognized by the American Diabetes Association and follows American Association of Diabetes Educators guidelines for self-care behaviors.

Biwer notes that the people she meets with always come away from their time together with something they can do and tools they can use right away. The information that is shared during a diabetes education session can help delay the onset of diabetes-related health complications, and help individuals understand their new lifestyle.

Fort HealthCare is committed to improving the health and well-being of our communities, with a vision to be the healthiest community in Wisconsin. As the leading healthcare provider in the region, it is our goal to reach as many members of the community as possible with health and wellness messages, providing tools and resources to help individuals improve their health and quality of life, while collaborating with several partners to positively improve the population’s health overall on a long term basis. For more information, visit FortHealthCare.com.