The Care Team
Treating diabetes requires a team of caregivers, and our staff is devoted to helping you learn diabetes self-management. Lehigh Valley Health Network's Helwig Health and Diabetes Center has been educating the people of our community about diabetes for more than 20 years and is prepared to help you throughout your life. Here are the people you are most likely to see, and what they do to help you manage your condition.
If a physician on your care team is board-certified, he or she chose to obtain an additional credential after medical school and residency training. Board-certified physicians have completed additional education and passed an examination to earn this credential. If one of your caregivers is fellowship-trained, the physician has had additional training in a particular area of interest.
Endocrinologist: An endocrinologist is a doctor who has special training in diabetes and related hormone disorders. Your primary care physician may refer you to this specialist for additional input regarding your treatment plan. The endocrinologist works with you and your primary care physician to achieve the best glucose control possible.
Certified diabetes educator:(CDE) A CDE has special training in educating and caring for people with diabetes and will provide you with information about diabetes and teach you practical aspects of daily self-care. The CDE will coach you as you learn new approaches to healthy eating and exercise, as well as how to take or administer diabetes medicines, manage high and low blood sugars and learn skills to successfully cope with diabetes.
Primary care physician: You will work closely with your primary care physician for regular check-ups, test referrals and general medical care. Your primary care physician is a good resource for questions you may have about any symptoms that concern you, for referrals to specialists or for more information about diabetes.
Eye doctor: Diabetes can affect the blood vessels in the eyes and lead to blindness. Unfortunately, once the symptoms are apparent, the damage usually is irreversible. For this reason, the American Diabetes Association recommends that people with diabetes see their eye doctor - either an ophthalmologist or optometrist - at least once a year for preventive care. Choose an eye doctor with experience in identifying and treating diabetic eye disease.
Podiatrist: Uncontrolled diabetes may lead to poor blood flow, sores and infections in the feet and lower legs. A podiatrist specializes in these areas of the body and can identify potential problems before they become more serious.
Dentist: Because of the increased risks for gum disease and oral infections that come with diabetes, plan to see your dentist twice a year for regular visits. Be sure your dentist knows you have diabetes.
Registered dietitian: A registered dietitian works with you to determine an appropriate meal plan for you, based on your weight goals, the medications you take and other factors. Even if you have had diabetes for a while, consider talking with a registered dietitian. As you age, your nutritional needs can change.
Social worker/psychologist/psychiatrist/marriageand family therapist: Managing a chronic illness involves many physical, emotional and economic challenges –not just for the person with diabetes, but also for your family. These professionals can help you and your family learn how to cope with the emotional issues and stress of living with diabetes.
You will see several other caregivers and support staff if you stay in one of our hospitals. Meet the members of our inpatient team and learn how they will help you.