CAMBRIDGE -- Chris Veselenak, RN, CDE, a diabetes educator at Southeastern Med, recently renewed her Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) status from the National Certification Board for Diabetes Educators (NCBDE).

Candidates must meet rigorous eligibility requirements to be eligible for certification. Achieving the CDE credential demonstrates to people with diabetes and employers that the health care professional possesses distinct and specialized knowledge, thereby promoting quality of care for people with diabetes. Currently, there are over 17,800 diabetes educators who hold NCBDE certification.

NCBDE was established in 1986 to develop and administer a certification program for health professionals who teach individuals with diabetes how to manage their disease. NCBDE's mission is to define, develop, maintain and protect the certification and credentialing process to promote quality diabetes education. With the CDE program, NCBDE recognizes and advances the specialty practice of diabetes education.

Veselenak has been employed at Southeastern Med as a registered nurse since 1979, starting the hospital's diabetes education program soon after hire. She was first certified in diabetes education in 1988. She is currently the inpatient diabetes educator and coordinator of the adult diabetes support group.

Southeastern Med's Diabetes Education Department provides support and education for patients with diabetes and their families from admission to discharge. The program includes diabetes education classes and a monitored exercise program. The classes cover the following topics: the types and causes of diabetes and treatment options; healthy eating, including label reading and carbohydrate counting; medications and insulin; and prevention of complications.

The program instructors include Cindy Fisher, BSN, RN, CDE, an outpatient diabetes educator; Chelsea Masters, RD, LD, a registered dietitian; Julie Beck, RD, LD, a registered dietitian; Kelli Haney, BS, EP, an exercise physiologist; and Josh Knott, MA, ATC, CSCS, an athletic trainer. Haney and Knott are in charge of the Southeastern Med Diabetes Exercise Program.

After attending diabetes education classes at Southeastern Med and obtaining consent from their primary care provider, individuals with diabetes are encouraged to exercise in the cardiac rehab gym at Southeastern Med or at Southeastern Med's Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Services facility, located at 10095 Brick Church Road, in Cambridge. Before beginning, the participant is evaluated to assess exercise tolerance. Testing the blood glucose before and after exercising is also required to be sure that the blood glucose is not too high or too low to exercise, and safe to drive home afterwards. Educational classes regarding healthy eating and other health topics are free and offered weekly for those who attend the exercise program.

Having the knowledge to manage diabetes can decrease the risk for long-term complications of the disease such as heart disease, blindness, kidney disease and amputations. The educations classes are free.

For information, contact the Wellness Resources Department at 740-435-2946.