The Plate Method: Changing the Way SCH Feeds Diabetic Patients


Swedish Covenant Health staff using the Plate Method to make a difference: Left: Roxane Finegan BSN, RN-BC, CDE, DWC, Middle: Muna Siddiqi MBA, MS, RD, CDE, Right: Debbie Davis MS, RN, CDE

Diabetic patients at Swedish Covenant Hospital will soon have an easier way of staying healthy in the hospital thanks to the collaborative vision of SCH’s Certified Diabetic Educators (CDEs) and the kitchen and inpatient Dieticians. Thanks to funding from SCH Foundation, diabetic patients within the hospital will now participate in the innovative Plate Method at every meal.  The Plate Method makes use of a divided plate, whose segments correspond to the precise portions of starch, protein and vegetables that should be consumed to ensure a healthy diet.  A portion-control plate is an important tool in the management of diabetes, because mismanaged blood sugar and complications from the disease are among the leading causes of death and morbidity.

Currently, diabetic patients often complain to CDEs and nurses that they are confused by the carbohydrate counting system used in the hospital. Some are worried about elevated blood sugars during hospitalization and are confused by their dietary offerings and serving size. In response to patients’ concerns, the CDEs requested funding by SCH Foundation to purchase specialized plates and placemats to use within the hospital to better train staff and control blood sugars in diabetic patients. While segmented plates have been used in the outpatient SCH Diabetes Clinic, this portion control method will now be used within the hospital context, and training will be provided across all care areas.

CDEs will partner with inpatient dietitians and the hospital’s food services department to feed hospitalized diabetics, using segmented porcelain plates, colorful disposable placemats, and a revised diabetic menu. These new strategies will educate patients on portion control and healthy diabetic eating, as well as provide them more effective blood sugar control which will result in the decrease need for corrected doses of insulin.

SCH nurses and CDEs are thrilled to be able to provide the Plate Method to our diabetic patients.  According to Sarah Stadler, Director of Nursing, “Carbohydrate counting can be challenging for the diabetic patient and portion control remains an issue for some, the Plate Method will not only educate patients, but will prompt them to change their eating habits and lifestyle once they leave the hospital”. This innovative program is made possible by generous donations to SCH Foundation. For more information about donating to Swedish Covenant Health, contact the Foundation at (773) 293-5121 or

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Housing Connections Program



Being homeless has a significant negative impact on a person’s health. This unique program has shown that it can help put people on a path to better health by providing housing along with ongoing support,” said Anthony Guaccio, President and CEO of Swedish Covenant Health.

Swedish Covenant Hospital and the Center for Housing and Health (CHH) have been working together since 2017 to improve the lives of 10 chronically homeless individuals who are frequent patients in the hospital’s Emergency Department (ED). CHH pays for the housing with a federal grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), while funds from the SCH Foundation provide intensive, medical and counseling support services.

To support the Housing Connections Program, DONATE HERE.

Ten participants were selected in consultation with the Hospital’s Emergency Department staff and ER Clinical Director, Kimberly Leslie. Each month, Ms. Leslie examined a list of the top 50 frequents users of the ER and then went to work contacting each one, gaining their trust and trying to persuade them to join the program.  The work was tedious and time-consuming, but in the end, ten participants were finally selected and provided with:

  • Permanent housing
  • Monthly rental subsidy payments
  • Assistance in securing critical documents (birth certificates, ID, Social Security cards)
  • Education on tenancy skills such as budgeting and paying rent
  • Enrollment in public benefit programs including Medicaid
  • Referrals for medical services, behavioral health, job training, MCO insurance care coordination

Over the last two years, the Housing Connections program has proven to be life-changing for the participants and has helped the hospital save thousands of dollars by reducing expensive ER visits.  “We have seen a drastic drop in ER visits once these patients are provided with a stable home, counseling services and hope” said Kimberly Leslie, Clinical Director of the Swedish Covenant Hospital Emergency Department. “We are pleased that our initial participants in the program are starting on a path to improved health and safety”.

Bruce, for example, was a professional writer who after being hit by a car while biking, made a downward spiral, living in a shelter and then ultimately, under a viaduct. He made six visits to our ED over a three-month period and couldn’t function due to extreme depression. His life had hit rock bottom. With the help of SCH and the Housing Program, he is now living in an apartment, gets counseling and other social services and is currently enrolled as a student at Wright Jr. College. Bruce is feeling wonderful; he has a regained sense of pride, and more importantly, a sense of purpose.  He has only been back to the ED once since he moved into his apartment- and that was to say hello to Kimberly Leslie, the woman who gave him a chance.

Swedish Covenant Hospital’s commitment to the community is unique and our patient care extends far beyond the walls of the hospital. As Ms. Leslie points out, “We not only take care of their wounds and their illness, we can take care of the whole person.”

This program is made possible by the support of the Swedish Covenant Hospital Foundation Board and generous donations to the SCH Foundation. To support the Housing Connections program, please DONATE HERE, or contact the Foundation at or 773-293-5121 for more information.

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Smoking Cessation Program Changes Lives


Susan has been a smoker since elementary school. She tried to quite on and off for over 30 years but never found success.  Susan lamented that, “it was difficult to stop because my husband was also a smoker, so there was always temptation in my house.”  With funding from the Swedish Covenant Hospital Foundation, the Smoking Cessation Program at Swedish Covenant Hospital has helped Susan and her husband finally end their relationship with cigarettes.

The woman behind this successful program is Carol Southard, RN, MSN, a tobacco treatment specialist, who provides the only hospital-based Smoking Cessation program in the city. This comprehensive, 8-week program combines group support sessions, relaxation and stress management strategies, nutrition and exercise advice and individualized interventions to help smokers quit tobacco.  With over 30 years of experience, Carol touts a 50+% success rate one-year post treatment by removing the guilt that smokers feel; focusing instead on health benefits and strategies for coping despite the desire and inevitable triggers.

For Susan and her husband, this approach was life-changing.  “I have tried to stop on and off for years, but Carol finally provided us with strategies and guidance that worked. We have now found hobbies to do instead of smoking; my husband cooks up a storm and my hobby is knitting and jewelry-making.”

The medical staff at SCH is also supportive of Carol and the Smoking Cessation program.  As Dr. Michael Shao, Vascular Surgeon, recounts,

“I am so grateful that the Foundation is supporting our Smoking Cessation Program.  It provides a critical service to our patients and really improves the health of our patients individually and the community as a whole.  Smoking is an under-recognized problem.  Much more attention is paid to the opioid crisis – which is also important- but smoking has an even greater impact on people and our society.”

Carol agrees, “Statistically, it’s more difficult to control the addiction of nicotine than heroin, cocaine or alcohol. The hardest part for most smokers is, how do I get through my day without a cigarette?” This program uses a comprehensive approach of cognitive and behavioral methods to create successful quitters. As Carol states, “It’s never too late to quit; No matter how long you’ve smoked, no matter how many cigarettes a day, no matter how many years, you benefit by quitting, and I help people do that.”

A new Smoking Cessation Session begins Tuesday, January 15, 2018. For more information or to register, visit or call 773-878-6888. To donate, please contact the Foundation at or 773-293-5121.

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