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Clinical Dietitian Earns Credentials as ‘Certified Diabetes Educator’

Susan K. Ray is Second CAH Nutrition Team Member to Complete Extensive Requirements

Carthage Area Hospital Clinical Dietitian Susan K. “Susie” Ray recently earned credentials as a Certified Diabetes Educator, completing more than a year of training and education that culminated with successful passage of a rigorous credentialing exam.

A Certified Diabetes Educator is a health professional who possesses comprehensive knowledge of and experience in diabetes management, prediabetes, and diabetes prevention. A CDE educates and supports people affected by diabetes to understand and manage the condition while promoting self-management to achieve individualized behavioral and treatment goals that optimize health outcomes.

Ray joins Carthage Area Hospital Nutrition Services Director Carly R. Draper, RD, CDN, CDE, as the second Certified Diabetes Educator on the hospital’s clinical staff.

“We are proud of Susie’s latest professional success; she has worked tremendously hard on this goal,” Draper said. “An additional CDE enables our Nutrition Services team to expand its clinical care and outreach for those who face diabetes or who may be at risk for developing diabetes. The more people on staff who are qualified to help improve the lives of our patients, the better we can make a difference in the outcomes we hope to achieve.”

A grant from the North Country Initiative helped Carthage Area Hospital cover training and related expenses for Ray to complete the requirements of CDE credentialing, which include 1,000 clinical practice hours, academic materials, continuing education and testing. The National Certification Board for Diabetes Educators administers the Certified Diabetes Educator credentialing exam, which Ray passed on Oct. 30.

Hospital leadership applied for the North Country Initiative grant in 2016 to “enhance Carthage Area Hospital’s ability to grow an additional CDE” and “increase health care accessibility to this rural Medicaid population.”

According to the North Country Health Compass, 11 percent of adults who live in Jefferson County have diabetes while 20 percent of the county’s adults who report an annual household income below $25,000 also report having diabetes.

As a fully credentialed CDE, Ray said she has gained important clinical knowledge and expertise that will enable her to more effectively serve the local population and help patients impacted by diabetes to manage the disease and live healthier lives.

“While it may be overwhelming for someone who is living with diabetes, we can help all patients — whether they are struggling or well-managed — gain important insight and knowledge to learn how to thrive with diabetes,” Ray said.

November is National Diabetes Month so individuals, health care professionals, organizations, and communities across the country can bring attention to diabetes and its impact on millions of Americans. The American Diabetes Association estimates that 1.7 million Americans are diagnosed with diabetes each year.

Ray is only the fourth credentialed Certified Diabetes Educator in the tri-county Northern New York area, according to the National Certification Board for Diabetes Educators.

Earlier this year, the American Association of Diabetes Educators named Carthage Area Hospital’s Diabetes Education Program a fully Accredited Diabetes Education Program. The distinction increases access to high-quality diabetes education services for people with diabetes in and around the North Country. It also expanded the number of health insurance providers that will cover the program to include Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare and Martin’s Point Health Care, among others.

The hospital’s Diabetes Education Program is presently the only accredited program in Jefferson County and just one of two accredited programs in Northern New York. The American Association of Diabetes Educators is a National Accredited Organization certified by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Accredited programs must provide evidence that they meet or exceed the national standards for diabetes self-management education.

The hospital’s program, located at its main campus, 1001 West St., Carthage, offers diabetes education classes in a series of classroom sessions. Patients are required to have a referral from their primary care provider. Topics include healthy eating and nutrition, physical activity and impact, benefits of blood glucose monitoring, medications, and diabetes and family. Contact the hospital, (315) 493-1000, and ask for the clinical nutrition department, to learn more.

About Susan K. ‘Susie’ Ray, MS, RD, CDN, CNSC, CDE

Susan K. “Susie” Ray is a Registered Dietitian, Certified Dietitian/Nutritionist, Board-Certified Nutrition Support Clinician and Certified Diabetes Educator who joined the Carthage Area Hospital’s Clinical Nutrition team in January 2017. She graduated from the University of Colorado Boulder with a Bachelor of Science in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. She earned a Master of Science in Food Science and Human Nutrition from Colorado State University. Susie is a Denver, Colo., native who moved to the North Country in 2016. She provides nutritional services in the community, the hospital’s school-based health centers and at Carthage Family Health Center. She lives in Sackets Harbor with her husband, Dr. Damian Ray, a family medicine physician who practices in Watertown, and three dogs. Outside of work, Susie enjoys gardening, animals, cooking and baking and has a knack for arts and crafts.

About Carthage Area Hospital

Carthage Area Hospital was established as a not-for-profit rural community hospital in 1965. It operates today as a fully accredited 25-bed Critical Access Hospital, serving approximately 83,000 residents in Jefferson, northern Lewis and southern St. Lawrence counties.

The hospital also operates a network of community-based clinics, including its Family Health Center, Pediatric Clinic and Women’s Way to Wellness and provides a range of specialty care, including general surgery, orthopedics, urology, physical therapy and behavioral health. Visit carthagehospital.com to learn more.