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Diabetes diagnosis didn’t mean disaster — even in a pandemic

Chris Aliviado

Like many, state employee Chris Aliviado was working from home in March during the early stages of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Even without a commute, he was feeling deeply fatigued. He also had an unexplained weight loss of around 30 pounds, a high heart rate and an unquenchable thirst.

Chris began to suspect he had diabetes.

He knew he needed help but didn’t want to burden the healthcare system in a time of crisis. He also recognized that diabetes is a high-risk condition if you do get COVID-19. Being around sick people wasn’t a good idea.

A friend suggested he contact the ParTNers Health & Wellness Center.

The ParTNers Center offers convenient, high-quality healthcare at little or no cost to employees enrolled in the State Group Health Insurance Plan. Learn more.

Chris, who had been to the ParTNers Center only once for a minor cold, got in touch by phone and quickly connected with nurse practitioner Cathy Spencer. While the Center was focused on telemedicine at the time, Cathy realized his case was more urgent. Chris needed labs and fast. After a quick series of questions to determine he was unlikely to be suffering from COVID-19, she told him to come in.

It was a Thursday.

“They did all the tests, and that’s when they determined I have diabetes,” Chris said.

“That basically changed my life.”

A finger-prick glucose tester* he’d ordered on his own came over the weekend while he awaited official results from the clinic. Normal blood sugar is between 100 and 140, depending on when you last ate, but Chris’s was shockingly higher.

“That Saturday it was 570,” he said.

When Cathy gave Chris the official confirmation, she found a man already determined to make the changes for a successful outcome.

“It was BAM, everything’s cut off. No sugar,” he said. Chris now carefully manages his carbohydrate intake, limits red meats and watches his fats. He was put on an oral medication and a once-a-week injectable to get his blood sugar under control.

Cathy also equipped Chris with printouts that explained his dietary needs and other aspects of his condition.

Soon his energy returned. He was walking for exercise and feeling like himself again.

Meanwhile, he synced his glucose tester with his iPhone to monitor important aspects of his health. It produced reports he could send Cathy so she could help him make adjustments as needed.

“She said, ‘Wow, there’s a lot of information here,’” Chris said.

Cathy admits she was impressed by the technology and by Chris.

“I would love for all of my patients with diabetes to be like him,” Cathy said. "He really took it on himself to change his diet by counting carbs and eating healthy.

“I don’t see problems in his future. Chris is one to watch.”

* State health plan members can get a no-cost glucometer from the ParTNers Center or through Caremark (one per year) if prescribed by their provider.

Want to learn more about ParTNers Center services or connect with a wellness coach? Visit or give us a call at 615-741-1709.


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