Leaders from a variety of groups focused on improving access to care, outcomes and quality of life for those touched by diabetes will share stories from their experiences during a panel session.
Manny Hernandez, Co-Founder and President Emeritus of the Diabetes Hands Foundation, will moderate “The Potent Power of Patient Leadership,” which starts at 1:00 pm Saturday in Room 6B. The panel features Christina Roth, MPH, MS, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of the College Diabetes Network, Inc.; Anna Norton, MS, CEO of DiabetesSisters; Gene Kunde, CEO of Diabetes Hands; Jeff Hitchcock, founder of Children with Diabetes, and Bennet Dunlap, MSHC, co-founder of the Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition (DPAC).
The panelists represent many different parts of the diabetes online community (DOC). Roth, for example, founded the College Diabetes Network as a junior at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst in 2009.
Norton, whose group works to help women with diabetes take a larger role in their care management, said DOC members such as those represented on the panel grow because they have done a great job of reaching out. The passion comes from a personal connection with diabetes since almost all of these groups were founded or are led by people who live with diabetes.
“That’s where this patient leadership comes from,” said Norton, who has type 1 diabetes. “We live with it. We want to see some change. We realize there’s a need in our community, so we try to put some wheels in motion.”
Diabetes educators shouldn’t fear the DOC, said Hitchcock, who founded Children with Diabetes in 1995 online and now has held 71 in-person gatherings since June 2000 for children and their families.
“First of all, your patients are going to be there, anyway,” he said. “And second, appearing fearful is not the way you want to be to your patients—be embracing of all resources.”
Dunlap, who founded DPAC a year ago to support public policy initiatives that benefit those with diabetes, said that the DOC and peer communities support what professionals are trying to achieve for their patients. He sees this session as a chance to create a stronger alliance with professional educators.
“Diabetes isn’t one size fits all,” he said. “You need to work with a team of professionals to define your path with diabetes, and once you’re on that track, those same professionals guide our success. But it is other people with diabetes walking along with you who keep many motivated to stay on course.”
Kunde, who recently replaced Hernandez as CEO, said that as a newcomer to the field, he’s impressed with the passion of those who deal with diabetes daily. That passion helps them deal with the disease’s complexity.
“I hear this from people who are going through it on a daily basis,” he said. “To sift through all the information available in this complex sector is difficult even though the field is filled with so many people eager and willing to help you.”
The Potent Power of Patient Leadership
1:00 pm – 2:30 pm | Room 6B