SCHNUCKS CERTIFIED IN DIABETES EDUCATION

ST. LOUIS -- Schnuck Markets here joined a small group of non-medical diabetes education providers earlier this month when two of its pharmacies, in its Loughborough and Florissant stores, received official certification as part of the Diabetes Education Program of the American Diabetes Association, Alexandria, Va.Schnucks is one of about 30 non-medical locations nationwide to offer ADA-certified

ST. LOUIS -- Schnuck Markets here joined a small group of non-medical diabetes education providers earlier this month when two of its pharmacies, in its Loughborough and Florissant stores, received official certification as part of the Diabetes Education Program of the American Diabetes Association, Alexandria, Va.

Schnucks is one of about 30 non-medical locations nationwide to offer ADA-certified diabetes education, and the first supermarket in the Midwest to do so, said Curtis Hartin, director of pharmacy for the chain.

"We were seeing a lot of people being diagnosed with diabetes. Because of the constraints on doctors and on the ability for people to get diabetes education from hospital settings or clinics, we felt it would be useful to bring this to the general public in their own neighborhoods," Hartin told SN.

The curriculum for the Schnucks Comprehensive Diabetes Education Program was developed over the course of two years by a team that included a nurse, physician sponsors, pharmacists and a dietitian. The two Missouri pharmacies were chosen on the basis of their demographics, Hartin said.

The idea came from a pharmacist who had been certified as a diabetes educator on his own and realized he was seeing a high number of diabetic patients in his pharmacy. The program idea grew out of conversations about that need, according to Hartin.

"This reinforces the notion that Schnucks is more than just a grocery store; it's a place where people can go to get good health information. The pharmacy is a big part of the whole wellness concept of the grocery industry," he said.

Included in the curriculum is information on planning diet and calorie intake, how to read product labels, and how to go shopping. Offering education to patients in a supermarket is beneficial not only because it is convenient, but also "because the disease state is so closely tied to people's eating habits," Hartin said.

To achieve certification, the Schnucks team taught several classes to diabetic Schnucks employees. Then it went back to measure outcomes in the wake of the classes. The team looked at lifestyle and behavior changes, as well as medical measurements like lower blood sugar and weight loss to evaluate the efficacy of the class. Results were submitted to the ADA, which evaluated if the curriculum and its outcomes met the standards of the organization, Hartin elaborated.

Classes will run over three consecutive weeks, totaling 10 hours. A new session starts every two to three months depending on community need, Hartin said. Classes are conducted on store premises in meeting rooms during evenings and weekends when it is more convenient for consumers, he added.

Schnucks plans to roll the program out to other stores where diabetes is a concern, Hartin stated. The retailer will also speak to managed care groups in the St. Louis area about educating their constituents as well.

"We are looking for sponsorship to replicate the program wherever it's needed," Hartin said.