By Noelle Stewart, DO, FQHC Medical Director
C. L. Brumback Primary Care Clinics
Every November, local communities across the nation recognize “National Diabetes Month” to raise awareness about its impact on millions of Americans – children and adults. Here in Palm Beach County, the Diabetes Coalition estimates that approximately 11% of the population (roughly 119,000 adults as of 2016) have been diagnosed with diabetes and an additional 4.5% of Palm Beach County adults (nearly 49,000) have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes. What is even more alarming is the rise in Type 2 diabetes among students in Palm Beach County’s public schools
School Nurses are on the proverbial front lines in the battle against diabetes. The Health Care District of Palm Beach County employs more than 200 registered nurses in nearly 170 public schools across the county. Our nurses administer insulin, help students check blood sugar levels and provide nutritional counseling to help children in Palm Beach County manage their diabetes care – both inside and outside of the school’s walls. Everyone knows that healthy students learn better. Accordingly, as health care professionals, our school nurses are routinely called upon to ensure that students with diabetes have the necessary support to engage in typical school day activities.
As part of National Diabetes Awareness Month, the National Association of School Nurses cautions parents and school officials on an annual basis that, “Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is a life-threatening condition and is often the presenting symptom of newly diagnosed type 1 diabetes in youth.” The symptoms of DKA may mimic those of other more common, non-threatening illnesses and could potentially be missed. “A delay in diagnosis of diabetes may lead to death. School nurses can take action and save lives, by increasing the school community’s awareness of the signs and symptoms of type 1 diabetes.”
Many students with diabetes participate in school nutrition programs, meaning that parents do not always have control over their child’s daily diet or the portion size of their meals. It is vital to remember that all students deserve access to healthy, well-balanced meals, and special diet accommodations, when medically necessary. In many of these cases, it is a Health Care District school nurse who advocates on behalf of the best interest of the child.
The impact of juvenile and adult diabetes on families in Palm Beach County is profound. Anyone can get diabetes. The disease knows no racial, economic, religious, or educational boundary. Sadly, early onset diabetes puts children at risk for developing diabetes-related complications at a much younger age. What’s more, these complications can profoundly lessen a child’s quality of life and more importantly, may be a key factor in shortening a child’s life expectancy.
Despite these dire consequences, diabetes prevention and awareness messages are not being heard by all Palm Beach County residents. We know this because close to 25% of Palm Beach County residents are still unaware they may have a chronic medical condition. The good news is that getting screened is easy and treatment is available. In fact, there are literally treatment options offered in every corner of the county.
Much like raising a child, caring for a child with diabetes “Takes a Village.” At the Health Care District of Palm Beach County, our School Health nurses, pharmacies, rural teaching hospital, and ten C. L. Brumback Primary Care Clinics all work together for “wraparound services” that treat and support Palm Beach County public school students and their families as well as low-income and uninsured adults. District employees are committed to the fight against diabetes throughout our community. While type 2 diabetes is a chronic health condition, it can be managed with daily exercise and incorporating healthy behaviors. Visit our website at: www.hcdpbc.org to learn more. Or, simply call our appointment line at (561) 642-1000 to get screened today!
Noelle Stewart, DO serves as the Medical Director of the ten C. L. Brumback Primary Care Clinics, Federally Qualified Health Centers owned and operated by the Health Care District of Palm Beach County. Dr. Stewart, who is fluent in English, Spanish and Haitian Creole, previously served as a provider at the Brumback Clinic location in Delray Beach, Florida.
Dr, Stewart holds a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine from Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. She completed her residency training at Palm Beach Centre for Graduate Medical Education in West Palm Beach, Florida. She is Board Certified with the American Osteopathic Board of Internal Medicine
Dr. Stewart’s professional affiliations include: the American Osteopathic Association, the American College of Osteopathic Internists, the Florida Osteopathic Medical Association and the T. Leroy Jefferson Medical Society. Dr. Stewart’s areas of medical interest include nutrition, diabetes and hypertension.
The Brumback Clinics provide medical and dental care for adult and pediatric patients with or without insurance.
Health Care District
2601 10th Avenue North; Suite 100
Palm Springs, Florida 33461