11/10/2016
National Diabetes Month:
CUMC Employees with T2D Participate in NIH GRADE Diabetes Trial

For National Diabetes Month, the Berrie Center spotlights a small and committed group of Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) employees who are participating in the National Institute of Health’s (NIH) GRADE Study (Glycemia Reduction Approaches in Diabetes: A Comparative Effectiveness Study). The study aims to determine the most effective ways to achieve and maintain long-term control of type 2 diabetes (T2D) that afflicts 10 percent of the adult population. The Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center is one of only 37 medical centers across the country participating in GRADE—giving CUMC employees quick, easy-access to some of the best T2D healthcare in the world.

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“As an employee, it’s been very helpful and convenient to come to my appointments,” said I.V. Dawkins, an EKG technician at New York Presbyterian Hospital.  “It’s nearby and it works to benefit people’s work schedules.  When you come there, you don’t have to wait to be seen – you’re seen right away.  Everybody treats you nice.”

Since participation in the study only requires four visits per year, GRADE is not a huge time commitment, a great selling point for those already on the CUMC campus. During that time, patients receive diabetes education, nutritional counseling and free care and medication, another huge selling point.  Said Stanford Fuller, a New York Presbyterain Hospital security officer: “GRADE has helped me learn more about diabetes because I was just diagnosed this year. Now I know a little more about it and how to eat and to check my sugar. My A1C went down from 13% to 6%!  There’s a benefit for me being an employee, because I have a chance to be seen by the doctors at Columbia.  The staff and doctors treat me wonderfully.”

Added Eugene Sostre, a lab technician at New York Presbyterian Hospital: “Well the traveling to my appointments is very easy!” he said.  “Since I’ve been in the study, I’m more aware of my diabetes, and my condition has stabilized. I think that if I started exercising, things would get better.”

The CUMC patients in the study are working as study ambassadors—promoting the study to colleagues with T2D and helping the Berrie Center continue to recruit subjects for the GRADE Study. This is not as easy as it may sound, said Eugene. “I tell my friends with T2D about GRADE, but they don’t always want to listen, even though I am doing very well.”

If you or someone you know is interested in participating in the GRADE Study at the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center please contact study coordinator Patricia Kringas, RN, MA, CDE, mpk40@columbia.edu, 212-851-5449.

Added Patricia Kringas, “We coordinate diabetes care and keep people on track at quarterly visits, where we follow subject’s A1C levels and other parameters of diabetes control. When you have a diabetes team that is working with you—when you have this amount of support—chances are you’re going to do better managing your diabetes overall, just by virtue of being in a study.”