High Country Healthcare’s Gretchen Broecker works to provide a community for diabetic patients
Broecker will provide a diabetic support group on Nov. 29 at the Summit County Community and Senior Center
The COVID-19 pandemic was a hard time for most people throughout the world. For almost two years, big gatherings and events were largely canceled or absent, leading people to feel isolated and alone.
Summit County was not immune to the COVID-19 restrictions that quickly made their way across the country. Ski resorts were forced to close at the precipice of the pandemic, before schools and other public non-essential venues quickly followed suit.
One thing that was forced to take a back seat due to the pandemic were public classes and clinics, services that offered much-needed community and support to groups of people throughout Summit County. From canceled fitness classes to closed health clinics, people were suddenly without the same support group they had before the pandemic.
Almost four years removed from the beginning of the pandemic, High Country Healthcare dietitian and diabetes expert Gretchen Broecker is reintroducing diabetic classes and clinics in order to provide support to her patients in the area.
Broecker and her family officially moved to Summit County in 2014 when she was hired at High Country Healthcare as a registered dietician and certified diabetes educator.
With a bachelor’s degree in human nutrition and exercise science from Concordia College and a master’s degree in food science and nutrition from Colorado State University, Broecker has provided much-needed expertise on both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes to patients in the Summit County area.
“I am a certified diabetes care and education specialist,” Broecker said. “I work mostly with people with diabetes and I do classes and one-on-ones. I help people get their blood sugar under control as well as eat healthy and exercise. Just live a healthy life with diabetes.”
After hosting many classes and support group gatherings for her diabetic patients leading into the pandemic, get togethers came to a screeching halt and have just now begun to resume.
“With COVID, I quit doing classes and diabetes support groups,” Broecker said. “I have had just a million people lately wanting to just get some support and learn that there are other people in the community with diabetes.”
Diabetes can often be a complicated and confusing disease that takes time for patients to figure out how to wrap their heads around it, according to Broecker.
“There’s such a lack of knowledge of what it is like to live with Type 1 diabetes and how hard these people work,” Broecker said. “It is a full-time job on top of their already full-time job and their family and their activities.”
Broecker works hard to make the disease more manageable by offering support and guidance in a world that can often seem foreign to newly diagnosed diabetics.
“Just encouraging people,” Broecker said. “Sometimes just saying that I understand or their doctor understands that they are not going to be perfect.”
Living at higher elevations can also play a major role in navigating life with diabetes. Insulin levels can be affected by taking a trip down to sea level or the other way around.
“Everybody is different,” Broecker said. “That is a big piece of Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. We see some people that need different amounts of insulin. If they go travel at sea level, they may need more or less insulin. Altitude does affect your insulin sensitivity in some people. Your body has to work harder up here.”
Broecker is one of the premiere experts in the High Country for diabetes support and education. She treats patients from all over the place, though the majority of her patients reside in Summit County.
“I am at the only accredited diabetes center where we provide education in the county,” Broecker said. “I work at High Country Healthcare so I see all of the patients with diabetes from all of our offices as well as basically all of the family practice clinics refer to me for diabetes education.”
With November being national diabetes month, Broecker plans to resume support groups and classes in the coming weeks with a general diabetes support group taking place on Wednesday, Nov. 29, at the Summit County Community and Senior Center in Frisco.
The support group is aimed at introducing other Summit County residents who are living with diabetes to one another and give them avenues of reassurance and guidance among one another.
“Just letting them talk and learn from each other,” Broecker said. “I learn from my patients every time I sit down with them, and I think just knowing that there is somebody out there that you could ask questions about, ‘What you do with your insulin when you go running?’, ‘What do you do when you go ski?’, ‘Can you wear an insulin pump when you are skiing?’ That sense of support and knowing that you are not alone I think is really important.”
The diabetic support group gathering will take place from 5-6:30 p.m. on Nov. 29 with more programming to be announced at a later date. The Summit County Community and Senior Center is located at 83 Nancy’s Place in Frisco.
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