Cathi Johnson, a registered nurse at Henry Ford Macomb Hospital in Clinton Township, takes the blood pressure of Jim Alvaro during a recent diabetes prevention class.

Cathi Johnson, a registered nurse at Henry Ford Macomb Hospital in Clinton Township, takes the blood pressure of Jim Alvaro during a recent diabetes prevention class.

Photo provided by Henry Ford Macomb Hospital

Henry Ford Macomb Hospital recognized for diabetes prevention program

By: Nick Mordowanec | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published February 4, 2019


CLINTON TOWNSHIP — Henry Ford Macomb Hospital is officially on the national radar when it comes to diabetes prevention.

In mid-December, the hospital, located on 19 Mile Road in Clinton Township, announced it had earned “full recognition” for its diabetes prevention program from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Organizations that deliver “quality, evidence-based” programs are recognized.

Henry Ford is the first hospital in Macomb County to receive such a designation. It is among 14 statewide organizations and 250 national organizations that have been recognized.

“We are honored to achieve this CDC designation,” Henry Ford Macomb President and CEO Barbara Rossmann stated in a press release. “The prevalence of diabetes touches more people than we realize in Macomb County and beyond. The individuals who come through our program have access to a curriculum of classes and support proven to help them make sustainable lifestyle changes while improving their overall health.”

Henry Ford nurse Ameldia Brown has been in the field for 42 years. She started in acute care, with specialties in areas like ICU, neurology and cardiology.

Now, she and nurse Marian Giacona co-lead the program, which is a partnership between the hospital and Henry Ford Macomb Faith Community Nursing Network.

“I felt like we were behind the eight ball,” Brown said. “Why couldn’t we prevent this? In my whole career, this is what I’ve been waiting for, to galvanize around self-care and have patients take responsibility to treat themselves.”

To attain a designation, an organization must demonstrate quality outcomes and meet a list of criteria. That includes patients diagnosed with prediabetes being part of a year-long program, in which a lifestyle coach offers advice and support in the areas of eating healthy, physical activity, dealing with stress and encouraging motivation.

Further requirements include a minimum of 16 sessions per year, with one session offered weekly during the first six months, followed by a minimum of six total sessions during months seven through 12; at least 60 percent of participants must attend at least nine sessions the first six months, and at least three thereafter; body weights are recorded at a minimum of 80 percent of sessions; and physical activity minutes are recorded at a minimum of 60 percent of sessions.

Part of the CDC designation criteria is that the average weight loss of the class must be 5 percent or more, and they must be pre-diabetic by bloodwork. All personal patient info is confidential.

Brown admits to having concerns related to the retention rate, which is 66 percent locally and 58 percent nationally. The focus has been on finding lifestyle coaches — who don’t have to be medically trained nurses or dieticians — within the county who promote self-responsibility.

“I always tell people, you didn’t get into this bad shape in one year, so for you to commit one whole year is the way it should be,” she said. “It should be more than that to maintain a lifestyle and success. … If we’re gonna be healthy, your doctor can’t make you healthy. Nurses can’t make you healthy. You have to make that commitment yourself.”

More than 84 million Americans are living with prediabetes, with 2.6 million in Michigan alone. About 90 percent of those people have no idea they have it, putting them at risk for developing type 2 diabetes and possible long-term health issues, like heart attacks and strokes.

But this program helps reverse such diagnoses through weight loss and eating better. More than 350 patients have enrolled since Henry Ford started the program in 2015, with an average of 7 percent of body weight lost during that span.

Brown said half the participants have been 65 and older, though the program is offered to individuals 18 and older. She said that a quarter of patients who lose 5 percent of their body weight could feel that lifestyle effect for possibly 15 years.

“That’s what kept me really excited about the project and expanding it,” she said, adding that it’s a safer path to tread than being stuck on medication. “Our goal is to get the population healthy.”

This year, Henry Ford has committed to 26 classes. The designation is good for a period of two years, after which the hospital would have to reapply and be reevaluated.

For upcoming class dates, locations or to register, call (586) 263-2993 or email