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Care Team Spotlight: Fernanda Costa, MSN, RN, CDCES

Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist

Fernanda is a Registered Nurse & Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist who speaks fluently in English, Spanish & Portuguese.  There is a high prevalence of type 2 diabetes (T2D) in the Hispanic and Latino population, and they are at greater risk for developing diabetes, according to The American Diabetes Association. 

“Fernanda is an asset to our education program,” said Cheryl Barry, RN, MS, CDCES, Manager of Diabetes Education at the UMass Memorial Diabetes Center of Excellence.  “She’s able to educate many of our non-English speaking patients in their native languages.” 

Increased diabetes risk for the Hispanic and Latino population

Fernanda takes pride in the fact that she has successfully educated many people in this high-risk population, helping them lower their A1c’s and control their blood sugars.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 50% of Hispanic Americans will develop diabetes. 

Engaging people living with diabetes to achieve results

“People who want to change and apply themselves are able to modify their habits and put a plan into action,” she said.  “It all starts with education and making small changes.  Once they are engaged and begin to see results, people become motivated to make the necessary lifestyle changes to get and stay healthy.”

Patients feel comfortable speaking to Fernanda in their native language.  In addition to engaging in a seamless conversation, it eliminates the possibility of words and terms getting lost in translation.

“Every patient is different and comes in with their own individual needs,” she said.  “I start by evaluating where they are [with blood sugars and overall health] and then listen to what their goals are.” 

Setting realistic and attainable goals

She starts off slowly with realistic goals and educates people as to why the changes are necessary.  When educating people about carbohydrates and how they affect blood sugar, she makes them aware that cultural norms such as a high carb diet of rice and beans, fried foods and plantains, raises blood glucose.  It’s unrealistic to cut those items out of their diet, so they begin with a plan to control portion sizes.        

“Explaining why it’s important to regularly check blood sugars, take a certain medication or adding physical activity into their routine, puts it into context for people,” she said.  “If they’re not engaged and willing to make changes, it doesn’t work.”

Why Fernanda chose the UMass Diabetes Center of Excellence

Working at United Healthcare and Worcester’s Edward M. Kennedy Community Health Center (EMK) prior to joining the UMass Memorial Diabetes Center of Excellence, Fernanda helped countless patients who were dealing with uncontrolled diabetes.  Many had developed or were at serious risk of developing complications from diabetes including heart and/or kidney disease, nerve damage, neuropathy, and diabetic eye diseases.

EMK often refers patients to the UMass Memorial Diabetes Center of Excellence based on the reputation of quality patient care with a care team spanning all aspects of diabetes management and treatments.  She decided that she wanted to focus her attention on helping people manage their diabetes.  

“The big picture is to get their [patient’s] blood sugars under control, which will decrease their risk for the serious health complications that diabetes can lead to,” she said.  “I’m proud to work at such a comprehensive and well-respected Center of Excellence.”

Fernanda and her husband do not have children.  They enjoy outdoor activities, spontaneous day trip adventures, and they’re very involved in their church.  Fernanda likes the symphony and attending Boston Pops concerts – and learned to play the violin as a child.  As a couple they frequently dine out to try new restaurants including Indian, Mediterranean and Mexican food.

Fernanda participating in a Health Fair at Lancaster's Brazilian Seventh-Day Adventist Church where she offered blood glucose & blood pressure testing and provided diabetes education materials in English & Portuguese

Diabetes Education Resources