Diabetes Education

Sentara Diabetes Education Classes

Diabetes education programs at a variety of Sentara locations assist those recently diagnosed with the disease, as well as those dealing with long-term diabetes management. Experts help patients develop the knowledge and skills needed to prevent complications and create healthy habits.

Sentara Diabetes Self-Management Training is recognized through the American Association of Diabetes Educators. The program is identified as "Healthy Living with Diabetes".

This 9-hour program is offered by Certified Diabetes Educators (registered nurses and/or registered dietitians) at Sentara Princess Anne, Sentara CarePlex, Sentara Leigh Hospital, Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital and Sentara Williamsburg Regional Medical Center. An additional individual 1:1 assessment visit is also available at most sites with the Certified Diabetes Educator.

To enroll:

  • For Sentara Princess Anne, Sentara Leigh Hospital and Sentara Norfolk General Hospital please call 757-388-2030.
  • For Sentara Williamsburg Regional Medical Center please call 757-984-7106.

A physician referral and registration are required.

At Sentara Obici Hospital registration can be done by contacting Central Registration at 757-388-2030 or directly at Sentara Obici Hospital at 757-934-4879.

At Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital registration can be done by contacting Central Registration at 757-388-2030 or directly at Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital at 757-395-8836. Follow up for patients is available through a monthly "Aftercare" program unique to the Virginia Beach site.

Courses are taught during both day and evening hours for patient convenience. Individual counseling is available at all facilities.

There is a charge for these programs. Most healthcare plans cover diabetes education. Please call Optima Health member services at the number on the back of your member ID card to check your benefits.

Additional outpatient services include Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT) provided by Registered Dietitians only. Other services include individual counseling, support groups, insulin pump training, continuous glucose monitoring and more.

Diabetes Basics

Diabetes is a disease in which the body cannot use food for energy causing high blood sugar levels. Diabetes management is possible and can be controlled.

Your body gets the energy it needs from food. After you eat, food breaks down into sugar and the blood vessels carry the sugar to all the cells in the body. Your body changes most foods into sugar, so you can get high blood sugar even without eating sweets. Insulin acts as a key and unlocks the door of the cell so the sugar can enter. With diabetes, you either do not make enough insulin or do not use the insulin you make. Without insulin, sugar cannot enter the cells and it builds up in the blood causing high blood sugar levels.

Signs and Symptoms

When sugar builds up in the blood, your body starts to give you signals including a need to urinate often, extreme thirst, hunger, sudden weight loss, blurred vision, dry, itchy skin, weakness, numbness or tingling in hands and feet, and slow healing cuts or sores. You may have some, all or none of these symptoms.

Types of Diabetes

Type 1 Diabetes — the body makes no insulin so the sugar can't enter cells.

If you have Type 1 Diabetes you may need to take daily insulin injections as recommended by your doctor. You also need to eat healthily, get regular exercise and check your blood sugar.

Type 2 Diabetes — the body makes insulin but it is not enough or it does not work right.

Some people with Type 2 Diabetes can control it with a meal plan and exercise. If these don't work alone, then you need medication. At some point, you may need to take insulin. Just like people with Type 1 Diabetes, you also need to check your blood sugar.

Dilated Eye Exams

Even if you can see fine, a regular dilated eye exam is an important part of vision care. You should have a dilated eye examination once per year.

You have several options to find the nearest in-network provider:

    • Visit Optima Health's "Find a Doctor" application
    • Visit VSP Vision Care at vsp.com/choiceonly
    • Members can contact VSP Vision Care directly at 1-800-877-7195
    • Members can contact Optima Health at 1-888-610-2268

Once you've found an eye care provider, you can call them directly to schedule an appointment.

Diabetes Tips and Education

Browse the information below for useful tips on managing diabetes.


Diabetes Care and Management


Exercise, Nutrition and Meal Planning

Heart Health, Cholesterol, Blood Pressure and Blood Glucose