Brother and sister tackle diabetes together at Blacktown Diabetes Centre

Brother and sister – Terry Fogarty and Janice Williams.

Two Greystanes residents – and brother and sister – Terry Fogarty and Janice Williams have been getting help together to self-manage their diabetes all thanks to the Blacktown and Mount Druitt hospitals (BMDH) Diabetes Education Centre.

National Diabetes Week 2021 runs from 11 – 17 July and is a reminder that western Sydney is a diabetes hotspot with disease rates higher than the NSW average – something that is being tackled at the centre.

The BMDH Diabetes Education Centre treats people with all types of diabetes including – type 1 and 2 diabetes, diabetes in pregnancy, steroid induced diabetes and pancreatogenic diabetes.

The brother and sister have attended since February and are just two of more than 5,000 people who are learning to manage their diabetes at the centre.

Janice Williams has type 2 diabetes which she’s been managing for 30 years, while Terry was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in October 2020.

Terry now takes insulin each day and monitors his glucose levels regularly.

“I had some of the typical symptoms of unexplained weight loss and unquenchable thirst during the night so my endocrinologist performed blood tests and told me I had type 1 diabetes,” Terry said.

I was concerned at first and curious about what happens next.”

The 69-year-old was recommended to attend the BMDH Diabetes Education Centre which he’s been attending with Janice and always come prepared with their list of questions.

“It’s a great comfort to get the answers I need. The team have been fantastic and they have an answer for everything diabetes related,” he said.

“They don’t rush me and give me all the time I need.”

Left to right – BMDH Diabetes Education Centre clinical nurse consultant Yiting Huang, registered nurse Akram Soltani, dietician Amber Evans, (centre) nurse practitioner Marlene Payk, registered nurses Jaybee Serrano, Renee Beggs and Parvinder Kaur. Note: photo taken in early June prior to mask requirements coming into effect.

At the centre it was recommended that Terry use a continuous glucose monitor to check his glucose levels without having to do regular fingerprick testing.

The continuous glucose monitor has been a blessing for Terry which measures his glucose levels through a small sensor inserted under his skin.

Blacktown and Mount Druitt hospitals diabetes nurse practitioner Marlene Payk said the centre’s team consists of diabetes educators, nurses and dietitians who teach people how to self-manage their diabetes.

“Our patients are educated on all aspects of their diabetes, how to eat healthier and the short and long term complications of diabetes,” Marlene said.

“It’s important for people with diabetes to monitor their glucose levels and administer insulin correctly.

“We also talk to our patients about the safety of driving with diabetes and how to access the National Diabetes Services Scheme,” she said.

Greystanes resident Janice Williams requires insulin regularly and like her brother Terry, also uses a continuous glucose monitor to manage her diabetes condition.

“It’s so much easier to attend the Blacktown Diabetes Educational Centre than visit my endocrinologist where I only get to see him for 10 minutes,” Janice said.

“When I visit the centre I’m able to ask and address all my questions even it takes one hour.

“Marlene and the team never make me feel rushed or that the questions I ask them are silly. I feel a lot healthier and more in control and I’m impressed with the depth and breadth of her knowledge.

“Congratulations for the good work that they do and it’s such a great service to have locally.”

The BMDH Diabetes Education Centre is available for inpatients, outpatients and pregnant women who use the services of Blacktown and Mount Druitt hospitals.

People require a referral from their GP, specialist or other health professional to access this free service.

For more information, contact the BMDH Diabetes Education Centre on 02 8670 8463 or Mount Druitt Hospital on 02 9881 1764.