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COVID-19 impacting Durham Region residents living with diabetes

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WATCH: COVID-19 is causing additional concern for people with diabetes. That's because exposure to the virus can lead to more severe symptoms and complications. Aaron Streck looks at how the pandemic is impacting diabetics, and what supports are in place to help. – Apr 15, 2020

COVID-19 is causing additional concern for people with diabetes, due to the possibility the novel coronavirus can lead to more severe symptoms and complications.

In response, Loreen Greer says she’s been forced to switch up her routine.

Instead of going to exercise classes, Greer, who has Type 1 diabetes, gets some fresh air every morning on her own after checking her blood sugar levels.

“They’re under pretty good control right now,” said Greer.

Nevertheless, the 63-year-old is worried about getting sick.

“I know that when a diabetic is ill, it is a real challenge to keep your sugars down because they rise quite a bit to fight infection and one of the reasons a Type 1 diabetic might end up in a hospital, they can’t control their blood sugars,” said Greer.

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While in isolation, she has been able to monitor her blood sugar more regularly — something that is critical to maintaining her health.

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Greer has also been going to her pharmacy every month to pick up her medication. She isn’t allowed to stockpile, she says, but she takes comfort in knowing that means there won’t be a shortage.

When it comes so seeking out advice, meanwhile, the pandemic has forced her to adapt, with her medical appointments now being done virtually.

“It was just like sitting across from her at her desk, I’m able to send in all of my stats to her online and she was able to look at everything and we had a really helpful conversation for almost an hour,” said Greer.

“Halting care with anyone living with type one diabetes was not an option for us,” said Lorrie Hagen, executive director of the Charles H. Best Diabetes Centre, which helps people living with Type 1 diabetes.

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“Living with Type 1 diabetes as a chronic illness, is an illness that can change moment to moment in terms of being able to manage,” Hagen said.

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“Having the support of an educator, whether it be a nurse, a dietician, a social worker — that access is crucial.”

Hagen says the amount of people looking for help during the pandemic has increased.

“The team here is able to talk and troubleshoot through that, and more often then not we can prevent that trip to the hospital, which is crucial, especially at this time,” said Hagen.

And with more patients asking for advice, the continued work at the centre is providing essential medical service at a time when some need it most.

As for Loreen Greer, she says she’s doing what she can to stay healthy — while also being grateful for the assistance she’s receiving.

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