By JEFF MEYERS
---- — Editor’s note: This is the first of two articles on specialists who have recently opened offices in Plattsburgh. Next Tuesday: Dr. Marzouq A. Qubti, practicing rheumatology.
PLATTSBURGH — Diabetes management will be the focus of a new endocrinology practice here.
Dr. Steven A. Leveston has been recruited by CVPH Medical Center to fill the region’s need for an endocrinologist. Leveston recently opened his practice on the fourth floor of the Physicians Office Building at 210 Cornelia St.
Endocrinology is the study of the body’s glands and hormones and their corresponding disorders, including diabetes, which Leveston has targeted as a prime emphasis in his practice.
“As the only endocrinologist in the community, we are certainly interested in all aspects of hormones and hormone-related disorders,” said Leveston, who comes to Plattsburgh after spending the last five years practicing at St. John Medical Center in Tulsa, Okla.
“But our primary goal here is to assist the diabetes-management program and develop a network of diabetes management with primary-care practices across the North Country region.”
Leveston’s approach to diabetes treatment goes beyond traditional therapies that utilize medicines to manage the disease.
“Every doctor can prescribe insulin and pills,” he said. “Diabetes is a disease that requires intensive education and behavior modification. Managing diabetes requires a commitment to lifestyle change.”
The specialist can spend extra time with individual patients to address the kind of education and support needed to make those lifestyle changes, he added.
“It takes months, years, to modify change,” he said. “When we work with people over a period of time as a team, we can increase the percentage of people who over time manage lifestyle change.”
That team — including the endocrinologist, primary-care physician and diabetes-care support staff — offers the patient support that can translate into confidence and success.
CVPH Medical Center opened its Diabetes Education Center in 2006. The center provides a variety of self-management programs and a successful diabetes support group.
The program also provides nutrition support for diabetics as well as insulin-pump training and blood-glucose monitoring education.
Leveston has already developed a relationship with the center and praises the efforts of CVPH and the center’s staff in creating a program with rich benefits for the community.
“A multifaceted approach is the best resource we can offer,” he said, adding that he will help to expand education programs both for patients and the region’s primary-care doctors. “I want to push the diabetes-education concept. That’s where it all starts.”
The primary-care physician plays a vital role in the team effort by identifying potential diabetics at an early stage, he said.
“It’s my goal to get folks involved in lifestyle changes at an early stage,” he said. “Many, if not all, complications can be dramatically reduced if caught early. Once problems develop, there’s not a lot we can do to reverse the damage.”
A lot of the success in diabetes management relies on the relationship between doctor and patient, Leveston said, emphasizing his desire to work closely with each patient and to spend as much time with them as necessary.
“When you have a solid relationship and show sincere interest, the patient wants to follow through (with a doctor’s treatment recommendations),” he said.
Leveston’s decision to specialize in endocrinology has a personal connection. Both his grandmother and father were diabetics, and he has followed throughout his lifetime the multitude of advancements in diabetes care.
He also has a lifelong fondness for chemistry and biochemistry.
“Endocrinology is the application of biochemistry for human good,” he said.
Leveston is one of several new doctors CVPH has successfully attracted to the region of late.
“More and more physicians are looking for hospital employment,” said Lisa Vannatten from the CVPH Recruitment Office. “There is a lot of interest in the hospital-employee model, and that has been the top reason why we’re recruiting some of these specialists.”
The region has been without an endocrinologist for well over a decade, if not two, Vannatten noted.
Other areas that are being bolstered by new physicians include rheumatology, pediatrics, emergency medicine, child and adolescent psychiatry, cardiology/electrophysiology, colorectal surgery, cardiothorasic surgery and internal medicine.
The hospital continues to search for positions in emergency medicine, psychiatry, neurology, pediatrics, OBGYN, general surgery, gastroenterology and plastic surgery.
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