By LesleyNovember 21, 2018
The ongoing observance of National Diabetes Month is an ideal time to introduce Kelly Authier, Kenner Army Health Clinic's clinical pharmacist, who knows all the ins-and-outs of empowering diabetics to meet their goals.
Beneficiaries are finding her to be a valuable resource in her role as an educator on medications, diet and preventive care.
"When I'm talking to patients, I want to understand what medications they are taking and what is going on with them," Authier said. "I am going to set up the next appointment before the individual leaves my office. I will refer people if they need to see the dietician or do a follow-up with their primary care manager. I understand people get so busy they don't have time to follow-up or they forget. I want to make sure they are in good shape when our session is over."
Understanding medications can be particularly important for diabetics. With that knowledge, they will know how to prevent hypoglycemia and meet their blood glucose goals on a routine basis. Authier will review all medications to ensure there are no unintended interactions that can cause side effects or reduce the prescription's efficacy.
Authier has been in practice for 33 years and her special interests are in polypharmacy, disease management, medication review and education. She is a bridge to help with medications and can make sure one is compliant and has all their labs completed. Bottom line, she is an extension of the primary care manager.
"When you come to see me, I am looking at everything," she said. "A large part of my job is to educate. For instance, diabetes… I am seeing more cases of that affliction. The reasoning for the increase may have to do with one's eating habits and the fact people are not getting up and exercising like they used to.
"When you come to see me, I explain everything about diabetes: What does it mean? How does it affect different systems? What does it do to the eyes and the extremities? What do we look for in exams? Why is it important to test one's blood sugar? Why do we test at specific times, and what trends are we looking for?
"I also help with setting a diet and meeting blood sugar goals," Authier continued. "I let patients know if they don't take care of this, later on down the road they will be dealing with possibly worse problems. This is why they are on this medication; if it doesn't work, this is the next step. I am a disease educator."
Authier understands it can be expensive and sometimes inconvenient to eat healthy; it is easier to go through the drive-thru. To counteract those habits, she is able to give patients more resources for their toolbox, and increase the educational perspective that emphasizes the health rewards of disciplined habits. She also lays out the information in terms patients can easily understand. Most of her appointments can take up to an hour of listening, helping and explaining what needs to be done.
One of her recent patients came in with a blood glucose meter and complained about how much it hurt to do the finger prick for blood. As Authier watched, she realized the individual was doing it wrong. She took the time to walk the person through the technique that made the patient no longer mind pricking the finger because it no longer hurt.
Due to the increase of diabetes she has seen, Authier encourages everyone to get educated. The disease is preventable. Kenner has resources to help patients achieve good health through prevention.
"I believe there are a lot of services here at Kenner people don't even know about," she observed. "It's important to bring this to the beneficiary's attention because there are those out there who could be facing serious issues and need the extra help. It is important to know the preventative resources, and we have a great team at the clinic."
Other services offered by Kenner's clinical pharmacist include, but are not limited to, medication reconciliation and education; correct usage of inhalers and glucometers; referral for dietary consults; pain/opiate management; wellness center programs such as stress/sleep management; metabolic analysis; exercise testing; dose adjustments for medications already initiated; ordering labs; prescription refills; tobacco cessation and managing polypharmacy.
"When people walk away from our appointments, I want them to understand the information and to feel empowered to make a real change," she said. "If they don't understand, we will go over as much as we need to because it's all about that knowledge that will make the difference in their health."
The clinical pharmacist works with Active Duty and Family Medicine Clinic patients. Individuals may be seen by self-referral or PCM recommendation. For self-referral, make an appointment by calling the Family Medicine Clinic at 804-734-9993 or the appointment line at 1-866-LEE-KAHC.