According to the CDC, more than 37 million Americans – or about one in 10, have diabetes. For the vast majority of those cases, its type 2, which children, teens, and adults of all ages can develop. It’s often called a silent epidemic, and NorthShore Health Centers is committed to providing the care and resources around the community to address it.
Treating diabetes, thyroid disease, and other hormonal issues is the responsibility of endocrinologists – a team of which NorthShore recently expanded. About a year ago, they brought on an endocrinologist, Dr. Wahid Kassar, part-time to begin their efforts. Around the same time, Patience Tieri, a nurse practitioner, completed her education at Duke University to specialize in endocrinology and earned certification in diabetes management.
“The need was just so great, and our area has a limited number of endocrinologists,” Tieri said. “I wanted to address that need and NorthShore did all they could to support me as I studied. Now, for about a year, I’ve been working with patients dealing with diabetes, thyroid, pituitary, and other hormonal issues.”
NorthShore runs clinics all across Northwest Indiana, from Hammond to La Porte, and Tieri and Dr. Kassar travel across these cities and more to serve various communities.
“I move around to all of the clinics throughout the week, it makes things far more convenient for our patients,” Tieri said. “Instead of traveling to South Bend or Munster, they can just visit one of our clinics.”
Tieri noted that as a mission-driven nonprofit with a commitment to serving anybody, regardless of their ability to pay, being able to provide quality diabetic care is especially important, as diabetes is found at a much higher rate in lower-income populations.
“If people don’t have access to quality food, and they’re living on a very tight budget, what comes with that is carbohydrates,” she said. “Carbs make your blood sugar go up, it makes us gain weight. Eating healthy can be expensive, and there are a lot of risk factors with not eating healthy.”
NorthShore also operates their own in-house pharmacy and are a part of the government’s 340B program, which allows their patients to receive prescription medications at a lower rate.
“The 340B program is the most amazing thing, it allows us to keep our costs really low,” Tieri said. “Here at NorthShore’s pharmacies, I can get the best drugs on the market, and they’re either going to be covered 100%, or be at such a low rate that almost anyone can afford. Even patients with no insurance, with our sliding scale, can afford the best drugs on the market.”
Endocrine issues frequently lead to other health problems, meaning that a complete care team is required to fully treat patients. NorthShore’s team includes optometrists, podiatrists, orthopedists, dentists, and more.
“Patients need a team approach, and that’s what we do here,” Tieri said. “We have a care coordinator that can set them up to see a foot doctor or an eye doctor, both of which are so important for diabetes. We have a nutritionist who can support them, a dietician that can work with them. These are all resources that we can offer.”
Tieri encouraged anyone with diabetes to consider a visit, stressing that just because they have type 2 doesn’t mean that they’ve done anything wrong.
“This is controllable – possibly reversible for some patients,” she said. “You can get things under control, learn how to eat better as a lifestyle – not as a diet. The big misconception is when we say you need to exercise, is that we don’t mean you need to run on a treadmill for miles. You just need to walk more, get some steps in. There are small goals that you can meet so that you don’t feel defeated by this diagnosis.”
To learn more about NorthShore Health Centers, visit northshorehealth.org