By JEFF MEYERS
---- — PLATTSBURGH — Recent upgrades at the Northeast Center for Diabetes Care and Education will provide a more comprehensive and financially supported service for patients across the region.
Dr. Jonathan Beach, who has managed his own Type 1 diabetes since his childhood, oversees activity at the Northeast Center, which shares office space with Urgicare of the Northeast at Hammond Lane.
“We’ve put together a program to meet the complete needs of diabetic folks in the North Country,” Beach said as he talked about some of those upgrades recently. “We offer diabetes-management programs, insulin management and other education programs.
“As always, we encourage regular exercise along with appropriate diet,” he added. “We’ve recently brought in a registered dietitian to ensure that service is available to our patients.”
Tracey Soulia is the new dietitian who will be available to assist patients with diabetes in managing their weight and making proper food choices.
“Every patient is different, but we can look at the medical diagnosis (of each patient) and help patients manage their diets so they are making healthy food choices without side-effects,” Soulia said.
The proper diet for a diabetic does not necessarily focus on calories; the patient has to be conscious of carbohydrates, minerals and other nutrients in food that can impact blood-sugar levels, she explained.
“The body breaks carbs down to different types of sugars,” she said, adding that the body also uses insulin to pull those sugars into cells, a process that is impacted by diabetes.
The focus on carbohydrates is complicated by the fact that all types of food contain carbs, including normally healthy choices like fruit.
Blood pressure can also play a role in the diabetics diet: reducing salt in the diet is one measure to help reduce an elevated blood pressure.
“Each patient needs individual support, Soulia said. “We always encourage activity, but there are other factors we always have to consider.”
The center is also working on a plan to provide educational visits to grocery stores to help patients choose the most appropriate foods for their personal needs, Beach noted.
“It’s one thing to talk about healthy choices, but it’s another matter when you can actually see what’s available (at the grocery store),” he said.
The Northeast Center for Diabetes has also hired a new office manager, Andrew Lushia, who has provided some innovative suggestions for daily operations of the center.
For instance, he recognized an opportunity to move medical technician Sue Dumar into a more permanent position to assist patients with their insurance needs.
“Sue is very good at getting what we need from insurance companies,” Beach said. “She will go out of her way to make sure the patient receives whatever support is available (through insurance).”
That focus has not only proven beneficial for the patients but has also allowed the practice to provide more cost-effective supplies, such as blood-meter strips that patients use to analyze their blood-sugar levels.
“The amount of confusion connected to insurance companies is unbelievable,” Beach said. “Sue has a wonderful way of simplifying information. She is very good at keeping track with trends.”
Beach also continues to work with a company that trains dogs to recognize blood-sugar levels. He has purchased a dog that stays with him 24 hours a day and is working with about six patients who are also interested in the innovative technique.
He also works closely with several pharmaceutical companies in providing educational services across the region and beyond.
The center first opened in 2007 and provides individualized care for diabetics.
According to the National Diabetes Education Program, more than 20 million Americans have diabetes, including an estimated 6.2 million people who are undiagnosed. More than 4,000 new cases are identified every 24 hours.
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