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Greg Link has been diabetic for 10 years.
Most of that time, his condition has remained stagnant.
“I was seeing an endocrinologist. I just was going along following the things that he was recommending,” says Link, 62. “I don’t know that I was doing the hardest work I could have, to be fair, but I wasn’t seeing anything spectacular happening.”
Frustrated, his primary care physician referred him to Edward-Elmhurst Health Diabetes Services, a clinic designed around diabetes care. An initial diagnostic test showed Link’s blood sugar was “wildly out of control.”
Link said his appointment with Stacy Centeno, FNP, CDE was productive. She encouraged him to take an active role in his care.
“Stacy recommended alternative ways to look at things, not only from a new medicine standpoint, but am I getting the most impact from that medicine,” Link says. “She really takes the time to explain everything in depth, the variety of options there may be, and asks me for input. I like that part of it, that there is a discussion.”
Internal medicine physician James Lengemann, MD, started Diabetes Services in 2014 with the goal to create a clinic dedicated to helping patients with diabetes significantly improve their conditions. The clinic has been recognized by the National Committee for Quality Assurance through its Diabetes Recognition Program, which is designed to recognize clinicians who use evidence-based measures and provide excellent care to their patients with diabetes.
“Our goal is to tell patients that they can control their diabetes. The disease does not have to control them,” Lengemann said. “Once they make some positive changes early on, the positive reinforcement is contagious and they are on the road.”
Link says his initial success with a change in medication inspired him to analyze his diet and make changes in his food choices.
Longer appointments at the clinic mean Centeno can take time with each patient, reviewing what’s working and what’s not — and make changes to get results.
Lengemann and Centeno collaborate with diabetes educators Cindy Bohac, RD, CDE; Barb Kopelman, RN, CDE; and Betty Wickman, RD, CDE, at the clinic and at satellite education offices in Plainfield and Yorkville, all focused solely on diabetes. They also keep the patient’s primary care physicians up-to-date on their progress.
Most patients are referred by their primary care physicians, both Edward Medical Group doctors and independent doctors. Some are referred after a hospitalization. Patients can also request appointments at the clinic independently.
Greg Malizzio, 59, was also referred to the clinic by his internal medicine physician’s office after he was unable to get his blood sugars under control with an endocrinologist.
Malizzio struggled with cardiovascular problems, including a stroke in 2013 and a heart attack in 2016, along with his diabetes.
When he started going to the clinic in November 2016, Centeno recommended he change the medicine he was on. He saw immediate results. Malizzio also enrolled in a continuous glucose monitor study, which further motivated him to change his diet and engage in his care.
“The medication I’m on right now has been working unbelievably,” Malizzio says. “I feel great. I’m tired from just working, but not fatigue. I don’t want to sleep like I did before, I’d be so tired. I could fall asleep anywhere.
“It’s like someone that’s my friend now. I sit there and talk to Stacy, she doesn’t rush me to get out of the office,” Malizzio says. “I can call her anytime, she calls me back. She’s the best. She takes her time, she listens to you.”
The improvements in their conditions have sparked new motivation in both men. Since his initial appointment at the clinic in April, Link says he’s lost about 25 pounds. Malizzio says he’s lost about 50 pounds since November 2016.
“I wish more people would go” to the clinic, Malizzio says. “I’d been going to an endocrinologist for five years, and I’d never seen numbers like I’ve had in the last eight months. If I didn’t meet Stacy, I probably would’ve had a heart attack already and died. They saved my life.”
To schedule an appointment with Diabetes Services, call 630-527-3213.
Learn more about Edward-Elmhurst Health Diabetes Care.
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