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Michael O'Rourke

Controlling blood sugars with the help of the UMass Memorial Diabetes Coach Care Program

Date Posted: Thursday, December 29, 2022


Michael O’Rourke was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in his 20’s but for more than 40 years has admittedly done nothing to proactively manage it until enrolling in the Care Coach Program at the UMass Memorial Diabetes Center of Excellence (DCOE).  He has always enjoyed the food he wants to eat and does not exercise.  During his first year working with a diabetes coach, his A1c dropped from 8.5 to 6.4%. 

“I am so happy for Mike and the success he's had using his continuous glucose monitor (CGM),” said Gabriella Pugliese, Clinical Pharmacist at Shields Health Solutions.  “I think most of his satisfaction with the coaching program comes from feeling confident in making healthier lifestyle choices and being able to stick with them.”

His diabetes care team consists of endocrinologist Dr. Richard Haas and nurse practitioner Nancy Sidhom.  He visits with each of them once a year during his bi-annual diabetes clinic check-ups at the DCOE.  Michael takes his prescribed diabetes medication and had always checked his blood sugar by fingerstick using a blood glucose meter once in the morning and once before bed.  Today he credits the CGM and his weekly coach calls with keeping him on track. 

“I look forward to Gabby’s call every Wednesday morning and she can see my numbers,” he said.  “She’s taught me what foods make my blood sugar go up and I’ve made modifications to my diet by staying away from potatoes and other starchy foods.”

For the first time, Michael is actively aware of his blood sugar levels throughout the day and it’s affecting his eating choices in a positive way.  When the number is high or rising, he makes the decision to not eat something he normally would have.  He also checks his seven-day average and is motivated by seeing his numbers stay within a healthy target range.

He was also driven by the fact that he needed a hip replacement but was told that he had to lower his A1c below 7% before the surgeon would agree to perform the hip surgery.     

Michael has been under the care of Dr. Haas for many years and has nothing but good things to say about both him and nurse practitioner Nancy Sidhom.  “I’ve always known that I could call Nancy or Dr. Haas at any time,” he said.  “They’re both very good and they care about their patients. I'm glad they introduced me to this new coaching program.  The structure is working for me and I recommend it to anyone who is struggling.”

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