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An Innovative Approach to increase Diabetes Self-Management Education and Support (DSMES) In Florida

Over the past two decades, the prevalence of diagnosed diabetes among Florida adults has more than doubled. It is estimated that over 2 million individuals have diabetes in Florida. This increasing prevalence increases the need for greater access to quality diabetes education for the people of Florida, especially in underserved areas of the state.

For more than a decade the Florida Diabetes Alliance, Inc. has partnered with the Florida Department of Health to offer an innovative mentoring program to organizations through small grants, small and large who want to develop or expand quality diabetes education in their communities. Establishing a diabetes program, otherwise known as a Diabetes Self-Management and Support (DSMES) program that meets the National Standards of DSMES, can at first seem overwhelming and outside the capability and resources of the agency. A diabetes education program can be as small as one health professional to as large as a multisite multidisciplinary program. A DSMES Mentor provides the expert guidance of a diabetes educator who has experience establishing a recognized or accredited DSMES, and in some cases has served as an auditor for one of the two CMS accredited bodies for DSMES…. The American Diabetes Association’s Education Recognition Program or the Association of Diabetes Care and Education Specialist’s Diabetes Education Accreditation Program. These expert Mentors provide step by step guidance and are in contact with the agencies designated coordinator to shepherd them through the stages of assessment, development, implementation, and accreditation. Through this approach, 30 plus organizations received financial and technical support to establish or expand quality diabetes education in their communities.

Over the years, many of these organizations have achieved recognition/accreditation, including Sarasota County health department (CHD), Alachua CHD, Central Florida Health Care, Palms Medical Group, Flagler Dept of Health, and Azalea Health. Organizations such as Sacred Heart Health System, Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare, PanCare of FL, and North Florida Medical Centers have launched several satellite sites, many of which are accredited or recognized nationally.

Below are just some of the comments from organizations who received the DSMES Mentoring…………

In 2016, North Florida Medical Centers was awarded a grant through the Big Bend Health Council and the Department of Health to work toward building a Diabetes Self-Management Education and Support (DSMES) program. The goal was to apply for and achieve DSMES accreditation. The process seemed daunting, incredibly challenging, and insurmountable. Fortunately, the grant funding and contract included a very crucial step for grantees to be successful, and that was providing a mentor. The mentor, Kathy Mulcahy, provided technical assistance and expertise to help us be successful to build the program. The mentor was available when needed via phone, email and even came onsite for a mock visit.

Without this technical assistance, the process would have been impossible. Since accreditation, many patients with diabetes have learned how to self-manage their care and improve their health outcomes. One patient was able to have her much needed cataract surgery after successfully improving her A1C. The surgeon would not operate until she improved. After surgery, her vision improved, and she was able to see her diabetes educator for the first time. This outcome was what we all were seeking. To this day, we are grateful for this opportunity to continue to assist patients.

Norrie Chumley, RN, BSN
Clinical Services Director
North Florida Medical Centers, Inc.

Having a DSMES Mentor to advise in the development of a DSMES program in preparation of submitting application for DSMES program accreditation is phenomenal! The DSMES Mentor provides enormous guidance throughout the entire process of program development, valuable program knowledge, experience and support, mentee growth in understanding the implementation of a DSMES program, and a valued professional relationship beyond the mentorship.

Ronald Lund RD, LD/N
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist, DSMES Quality Coordinator
Central Florida Health Care

Anyone that will be applying for DSMES accreditation needs this mentorship service! Kathy Mulcahy is an amazing mentor. She made sure we had all the correct and updated information/documents we needed to apply for ADCES accreditation. The application and interview process went seamlessly and stress free due to the high-quality mentorship. I’m immensely grateful to have had this mentorship service. Thank you for everything!

Alana Shawah RD, LD/N, CLC
Health Education Program Manager
Florida Department of Health – Flagler

For organizations interested in receiving DSMES Mentoring services or for Diabetes Care and Education Specialists wanting to serve as a mentor, please contact Kathy Mulcahy at