In addition to the exciting activities and camp events, medical management is an important aspect of Camp Sweeney. Our medical program is conducted by a sizeable and talented staff whose goal is to teach each child as much as possible about managing their diabetes. Our Camp Director, Dr. Ernie Fernandez, and Medical Directors, Dr. Kathy Sumpter and Dr. Jimmy Tarpley, work hand-in-hand with pediatric resident physicians, medical students, registered dietitians, and highly trained counselors to oversee every aspect of each camper’s medical care.
“Since we have been home my child is actually asking to test if he feels low. Before camp he would do anything to avoid checking his blood sugar.”
On opening day, members of the medical staff conduct an extensive intake interview with parents and campers to obtain medical history, insulin dosages, meal plans, and food or drug allergies. Although all insulin, syringes, alcohol swaps and testing equipment are provided for each camper, parents are asked to bring additional medications their child may be taking. All medications must be in the original containers. In addition, campers on insulin pumps are asked to bring all needed pump supplies for the duration of the session.
On closing day, parents are given a complete report of their camper’s medical history at camp and guidelines for an easy transition to medical self-maintenance at home.
While at camp, each camper tests his or her own blood sugar five to seven times each day, plus additional times if a low blood sugar is suspected. Additionally, a urine ketone determination is performed each morning. Medical staff members review test results before each meal use our online database to prescribe insulin dosages. Insulin is administered by campers under strict supervision. If a child is not yet administering his or her own insulin, our skilled staff is on-hand to help. Each camper’s chart is reviewed each evening to make adjustments for the next day.
Campers are supervised at all times by counselors, medical students, residents, attending physicians, and dietitians. A fully equipped hospital is located on the camp grounds to meet the daily medical needs and medical emergencies should they arise. Any situation that requires medical treatment that is not available at the camp hospital can be accommodated at the Gainesville hospital. Should an emergency arise, parents are notified as soon as possible. Each camp activity has its own reaction station complete with blood testing equipment and necessary medical supplies to provide immediate care. These stations are connected directly to our onsite hospital and medical team who can provide a 2 minute response time to any location at camp.
Camp Sweeney staff members are trained to use Medtronic and Dexcom continuous glucose monitors. While at camp, CGMs are used for nighttime monitoring and some mealtime dosing (if your device is FDA approved). Finger stick blood tests are required for treatment of reactions and at designated intervals for CGM calibration as recommended by the FDA. CGMs will report to local receivers, but cannot be connected to cell phones while at camp. In addition, local receivers will only be synced to CGM’s in cabins and at special events.
Staff members are also trained to use the Medtronic 670G closed loop pump and the Bigfoot pump. Manual basal rate changes will be made to account for changing levels of activity while at camp.
Each night of camp the medical staff conducts “night rounds” in all 8 cabins. Camper’s blood sugars are routinely tested a midnight, 2 AM, and 4 AM, plus additional times for any camper experiencing nighttime hypo- or hyperglycemia. Trained counselors are also available in the cabins at all hours of the night. If you child wears a CGM at camp, it will also be used to monitor his or her blood sugar at night.
Medical management is enhanced by instruction in meal management and nutritional aid. A registered dietician plans meals according to the American Diabetes Association Exchange List, so campers can maintain a constant carbohydrate diet. At every meal, each camper has a tray specifically prepared for them by our kitchen staff, considering food allergies, preferences and supplying exact caloric needs. Emphasis on balancing proteins, fats, and carbohydrates help campers learn to become independent in nutritional management.
Diabetes education is an important, ongoing activity incorporated into each camper’s day. Sweeney MED is led by members of the medical staff and discussions are tailored appropriately to each age group. Each afternoon during Flag Lowering, campers are given the chance to win prizes by demonstrating the medical knowledge they have gained at camp.
“My son attending was a game changer for us. He came back extremely happy and more knowledgeable about his care on diabetes.”