Dynamic Duo

Top Hospitals and Healthcare 2016: Norfolk’s Sentara Heart Hospital and EVMS offer a joint program for cardiovascular patients with diabetes.

Front row: Elias Siraj, M.D., Sharon Cone, FNP-C, Audrey Douglas-Cooke, R.N., Thomas Klevan, M.D.; middle row: Carl Hartman, M.D., Denise Cox, FNP-C, Jerry Nadler, M.D., Jagdeesh Ullal, M.D.; back row: Rebecca Cwik, FNP-C.

Photo by Steve Budman Photography

Eastern Virginia Medical School’s Strelitz Diabetes Center and Sentara Heart Hospital in Norfolk have teamed up to offer a new program that targets two often connected health problems: diabetes and cardiovascular disease.  

“Unfortunately, the first time that people often find out that they have Type 2 diabetes is when they come to the hospital with a heart event—a heart attack or needing a heart procedure,” says Dr. Jerry Nadler, EVMS chair in internal medicine and vice dean of research, and a prominent diabetes physician-scientist. A previous survey conducted by the medical school showed that 62 percent of Sentara’s heart patients also had Type 1 or 2 diabetes. Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, which houses the heart center, is the teaching hospital for EVMS.

Since the program began in January, it has already welcomed 800 patients. Participants are visited every day in the hospital by a diabetes educator, nutritionist, nurse practitioner and the hospital’s cardiac team, who collaborate to provide personalized care for the patient. 

After patients are released from the hospital, their diabetic and cardiac care continues in an outpatient setting. These outpatient providers offer long-term consultation with primary care physicians as needed, and meet monthly—often with other diabetes-related specialists—to discuss patient care. 

Research is also underway at EVMS to better understand the mechanisms of diabetes and develop new therapies. In February, Nadler was named one of two Outstanding Scientists of Virginia by Gov. Terry McAuliffe. His colleagues at EVMS include physician-researcher Dr. Elias Siraj, who was named to lead the Sentara•EVMS Diabetes Program in September. 

Nadler helped set up the program with EVMS endocrinologist Dr. Jagdeesh Ullal, who serves as medical director, and cardiologist Dr. Carl Hartman, formerly the medical director of the cardiac service line for Sentara Healthcare.

Hartman believes the program could attract patients on a national level. He notes that both centers are ranked #24 nationally for their respective specialties in the 2016 U.S. News and World Reports list of Top Hospitals. 

Says Hartman, “The concept is that this uniquely common combination of diseases will be managed appropriately and comprehensively for our patients, dealing with every aspect of their cardiovascular and diabetic condition.” EVMS.edu, Sentara.com

Diabetes News

Researchers at Virginia Tech, led by Dr. Bin Xu, assistant professor of biochemistry, are investigating the links between patients with diabetes and those who go on to develop Alzheimer’s. Their studies have shown that a protein secreted by the pancreas is poorly regulated in patients with Type 2 diabetes, and this protein may cause toxic deposits in the brain, contributing to Alzheimer’s. The team began their work in 2015 with support from the Virginia Center on Aging, and recently announced they will be expanding their study.

Using grants from the National Institutes of Health, a research team from UVA Health System announced it launched two clinical trials this year as part of a $12.7 million project to perfect artificial pancreas technology, which uses a smartphone application to scan diabetes patients’ blood glucose levels at regular intervals and communicate with an insulin pump as needed.

The Wound Care Center at Sentara RMH Medical Center in Harrisonburg offers hyperbaric oxygen therapy, total contact casting (TCC) and negative pressure wound therapy to patients suffering from chronic wounds like diabetic foot ulcers. If not treated, ulcers can lead to amputation. Since early detection lessens the risk of limb loss, the Wound Care Center recommends patients get screened at least four times per year.

Diabetes Top Honors 2016

Bon Secours 
Mechanicsville, BonSecours.com/Richmond, 804-764-6000

Winchester Medical Center
Winchester, ValleyHealthLink.com, 540-536-8000

Page Memorial Hospital
Luray, ValleyHealthLink.com/Page-Memorial-Hospital, 540-743-4561

Riverside Regional Medical Center
Newport News, RiversideOnline.com, 757-585-2200

UVA Medical Center
Charlottesville, UVAHealth.com, 434-924-0211

See all of our top hospitals for 2016, below.

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