Community Papers

Coffee with: Nursing knowledge

Tsawwassen's Lynn Hart is a retired nurse who ran an outpatient diabetes program at Delta Hospital for nearly two decades. She continues to urge people to live a healthy lifestyle that will prevent the onset of Type II diabetes.
— image credit: Adrian MacNair photo

For Lynn Hart, knowledge is a powerful tool. The retired nurse and diabetes educator says it's the best weapon against a disease that affects millions of people across the globe.

"I think it's important for people to know it's a pandemic," says Hart.

According to the Canadian Diabetes Association, more than nine million Canadians live with diabetes or the preconditions that lead to the disease, costing the Canadian healthcare system roughly $11.7 billion. The toll on the economy in lost productivity may be even higher.

"Because we're so busy in our lifestyle, we go out to eat," explains Hart.

That, combined with an aging population, rising obesity rates, sedentary lifestyle, and increase in new Canadians who are at a higher risk of developing Type II diabetes, means even more people are likely to be diagnosed in the coming years.

Type II diabetes  is a disease in which your pancreas does not produce enough insulin, a hormone that helps your body control sugar levels in your blood.

Over time, high blood sugar levels can lead to blindness, heart disease, kidney problems, nerve damage, and erectile dysfunction.

When Shaughnessy Hospital was closed, funding was redirected to community hospitals and programs. Hart began working as a diabetes educator at Delta Hospital in 1994.

Previous to the clinic opening, people with diabetes were referred to an education program in Vancouver.

"When I reflect back, I realize that this was the best job I've ever had," says Hart. "It's all about the wonderful people I met... giving information and helping people to self-manage diabetes on their own was very rewarding."

Ways to manage or prevent diabetes include not smoking, creating and following a balanced meal plan, being physically active, maintaining a healthy body weight, and taking prescribed medication.

World Diabetes Day was Thursday, Nov. 14.

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