Diabetes Diagnosis Leads to Lifestyle Change
After enrolling in the NYC Care program, Wendell found a doctor who provided treatment and support for diabetes
It was at a recent family dinner that Brooklyn resident Wendell Wells learned the news that would change his life.
After a family member expressed concern that he might have diabetes, Wells pricked his finger to check his blood sugar. To his shock, his blood glucose level was 425 mg/dL, more than 4 times the normal level of 99 mg/dL.
“My level was almost off the charts. I was just feeling really bad,” Wells said. “I remember thinking I have to cancel everything and go to the hospital tomorrow and get this taken care of.”
Shaken by the elevated level, Wells immediately scheduled an appointment at NYC Health + Hospitals/Woodhull for the next day. Once there, he was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and was introduced to a caseworker to discuss next steps before starting treatment.
Wells, a freelancer in technology sales, is not eligible for health insurance. However, the Woodhull caseworker determined he qualified for NYC Care, a program offered by NYC Health + Hospitals that guarantees services to New Yorkers who do not qualify or cannot afford health insurance. With this, Wells could pay for care and medications at adjusted rates based on his income.
Wells was then referred to NYC Health + Hospitals/Gotham Health, Cumberland for treatment. That’s where he met Dr. Jonathan Jiménez, who provided the guidance and positive outlook he needed.
“When you’re diagnosed with something like diabetes and you’ve had friends die of hypertension and liver disease, you feel mortal really quickly. You need someone to explain what’s wrong,” Wells said. “Dr. Jiménez really took the time to explain the situation and told me what I needed to do to start living a healthy life.”
During Wells’ first appointment, Dr. Jiménez explained how diabetes was affecting his body and that he could potentially face complications such as an increased risk of heart attack or stroke if he didn’t make changes to his diet and exercise more.
“Hearing exactly how your body works and how it can go wrong is particularly helpful,” said Dr. Jiménez. “And Wendell understood everything I was saying and was all the more motivated to make the necessary changes.”
Together, the pair worked on a plan that required Wells to exercise every day, eat more vegetables, cut carbs and sugary drinks, and fast once a week. Dr. Jiménez also prescribed metformin, a medication that makes the body’s naturally occurring insulin more effective. After making these changes, Wells dropped his blood sugar to near-normal levels in just a few months.
Wells’ success is largely built on the close relationship he has with Dr. Jiménez. It’s what Dr. Jiménez strives to have with every patient.
“There are lots of ups and downs throughout life and the ideal relationship with your primary care physician is a long one with someone you trust,” he said. “It’s really rewarding and a privilege to walk alongside Wendell and always be a support to him.”
Wells has kept with the plan and is a far cry from where he was during that fateful family dinner. His A1C reading is now 6.7 percent, down from 13 percent, and he has lost 25 pounds since his initial appointment at Gotham Health, Cumberland.
“Dr. Jiménez checked up on me, the staff checked up on me,” Wells said. “They really put the human factor back into health care. It’s what saved my life.”
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