Skip to Main Content

SCH Diabetes Gold Seal

St. Catherine Hospital first in Northwest Indiana to earn Joint Commission Gold Seal of Approval for Inpatient Diabetes Care

Team approach to detect, treat and help patients effectively manage diabetes brings Advanced Inpatient Diabetes Care Certification from healthcare accrediting organization

EAST CHICAGO – St. Catherine Hospital’s Center for Diabetes has been recognized by The Joint Commission as one of the top centers for excellence in the country. The seal distinguishes St. Catherine Hospital as the premium provider of quality diabetes care from the moment a patient walks through their doors.

The highest-rated Gold Seal of Approval in Inpatient Diabetes Care is the first of its kind to be awarded to a hospital in Lake or Porter counties.

“We are pleased to achieve this hallmark of excellence,” said St. Catherine Hospital CEO Jo Ann Birdzell. “Diabetes is a top concern and is highly prevalent in the Region. It’s an honor to be recognized as a center that works as a team to detect diabetes in its early stages and help patients learn how to balance diabetes with their lifestyle needs.”

Diabetes, a condition in which the body does not properly process food for use as energy, is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. More than 29 million Americans have diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The disease runs rampant here, in part, because people lack access to care and education,” said Dr. Yves Frantz Brignol, president of St. Catherine Hospital’s medical staff. “Many people don’t even know they have it. Because diabetes can present in subtle ways, it’s important to have a center of excellence in place to help people detect, treat and learn how to manage this disease.”

“We know how important it is to get ahead of this,” said Craig Bolda, the hospital’s chief operating officer. “The advanced certification affirms our commitment to offer the highest level of care to patients with diabetes.”

Diabetes can lead to kidney failure, heart attack, cardiovascular and other serious health problems, such as blindness and lower extremity amputations, Brignol said. Early detection is essential.

“Our goal is to turn the notion of untreated, undiagnosed diabetes on its head,” said Virginia Ait Said, clinical nurse specialist and team leader in the advanced certification process with The Joint Commission.

St. Catherine Hospital achieved the advanced certification within three years. The process, that typically takes five years to complete, included a rigorous on-site review. Patient outcomes of care and all aspects of treatment, such as medical, surgical, inpatient care, infection control, pharmaceutical care, patient education and diabetes management are all taken into consideration.

Joint Commission experts evaluated compliance with national disease-specific care standards, clinical practices, diabetes education for staff, blood-glucose monitoring protocols, treatment plans for patients with hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia. Patient and family education for diabetes self-management are addressed, as well.

“We commend the hospital for becoming a leader in inpatient diabetes care, potentially providing a higher standard of service for diabetic patients in the community,” said Wendi Roberts, RN, executive director of certification programs for The Joint Commission.

“Having a center of excellence in a region where diabetes is so prevalent is important,” Bolda said. “The management of diabetes requires a collaborative, team approach from not only the physicians, dietitians, nurses and educators, but also the patient. Communication among the care team is essential for better outcomes.”

The American Diabetes Association has re-accredited St. Catherine Hospital’s diabetic outpatient center for nearly two decades.
The Joint Commission certification process, which is separate from the ADA designation, helped the St. Catherine Hospital team recognize its strengths, and push forward to identify and address challenges to improve their level of care even more.

Diabetes education, which begins in the hospital, does not end after a patient is discharged. Education session, offered in English and Spanish, are held regularly by the Center for Diabetes on at least seven self-care behaviors: healthy eating, staying active, taking medications, problem-solving, coping and reducing risks. Doctors, exercise physiologists, pharmacists, dietitians, registered nurses, behavior specialists and certified diabetes educators conduct the sessions.

“Our goal isn’t only to detect and manage diabetes,” said Ait Said. “A whole new set of procedures follow every patient to ensure that anyone who is at risk for diabetes is identified, and given the education and medical monitoring to reverse or slow this disease process.”

The new standards give patients assurance that when they are admitted to St. Catherine Hospital they can draw comfort knowing a plan is being developed to address their diabetes or pre-diabetes on many levels.

To improve early detection results, St. Catherine Hospital medical staff also automatically tests patients with a history of diabetes to see how they are managing the disease. If the balance is tipping, the diabetes management team is called in.

“If we can identify patients early in the disease process, and perhaps reverse the odds of their condition getting worse, everyone in the region benefits,” Bolda said.


About The Joint Commission:
The Joint Commission is an independent, not-for-profit national body that seeks to continuously improve healthcare for the public. Founded in 1956, it evaluates healthcare organizations and inspires them to excel in providing safe and effective care of the highest quality and value. To learn more about The Joint Commission, visit:

About St. Catherine Hospital:
Located in East Chicago, St. Catherine Hospital is a not-for-profit acute healthcare facility. Founded in 1928, the 190-bed hospital is part of the Community Healthcare System, Northwest Indiana’s largest integrated healthcare system. Other hospitals operating in the system are Community Hospital, Munster, and St. Mary Medical Center, Hobart. For more information, visit or call 219-392-1700.

Debra Gruszecki, director Marketing & Community Relations 219-392-7014