Coordinating Diabetic Care

October 5, 2007
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When Michigan Medical PC about a year ago reviewed the number of its patients diagnosed with diabetes, it found 7,000, said Dr. Greg Deines.

Now Deines, an osteopathic internist with MMPC’s Zeeland office, has brought his interest in treating patients with diabetes to Grand Rapids. Starting last month, he is now seeing diabetic patients at a Grand Rapids office in close proximity to specialists in other areas they need: podiatrists, cardiology, vascular surgery, foot and ankle, ophthalmology, interventional pain management, urology and weight management.

“It’s a way to coordinate diabetes care for patients and try and do it in a one-stop shopping location,” said Deines, who will practice Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at MMPC’s 4069 Lake Drive SE location, and Tuesdays and Thursdays at the MMPC/Zeeland Community Hospital Diabetes Center.

MMPC’s Center for Diabetes is open to anyone, not only MMPC patients. However, Deines said the number of MMPC patients with diabetes was a revelation. “Twenty-one percent of the population has diabetes, but only about 14.5 percent know that they have it,” he said. “If we know we have 7,000, there’s probably more than that.”

The advantage will be to give patients a single phone number and single location to schedule and to see specialists who deal with diabetes complications and related care, Deines said.

“For example, two of the things that patients with diabetes need every year are an annual dilated eye exam and a foot exam, to be in compliance with (American Diabetes Association) guidelines. They’ll have one visit with the primary care doctor, now another appointment to see the ophthalmologist and another to see the foot doctor. Getting those three appointments taken care of doesn’t always happen.

“This provides a way for patients to do those things all at once.”

While some endocrinologists specialize in diabetes, not all diabetologists are endocrinologists, Deines said. Currently there are no residencies or board exams for diabetologists, so it is more of an area of professional interest for doctors. While endocrinologists are often thought of as diabetes experts, they also deal with many other conditions.

“The problem is, there are not enough endocrinologists in the U.S.,” Deines said. “Twenty-one million people in the U.S. have diabetes. This leaves a big void of untreated diabetes, so the responsibility falls back on the primary care physician.”

He said he’d like to see the care of diabetics become a recognized specialty.

“If we can control diabetes, we can prevent things like heart attack and stroke and many of the other health care conditions that cost so much in the loss of quality of life and lives and, frankly, financially,” Deines said. HQX

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