Ellis Medicine and St. Peter’s Health Partners are teaming up once again, this time to launch a new physicians practice designed to fight the region’s growing incidence of diabetes.
The new practice, Capital Region Diabetes and Endocrine Care, P.C., will provide inpatient and outpatient services across various Ellis and St. Peter’s sites in the Capital Region. So far, it includes 21 providers: a mix of four endocrinologists/diabetologists, five advanced practitioners and a dozen certified diabetes educators. More are being recruited.
“When you talk about the big things in American health care, diabetes so prominently figures into things,” said Roger Barrowman, CEO of Ellis Medical Group, a multispecialty practice of more than 170 clinicians.
Diabetes affects 8 percent of Americans. And with obesity affecting more than 30 percent of Americans, pre-diabetic conditions are becoming increasingly costly as well. In the Capital Region, more than 43,000 residents have diabetes, more than 115,000 are obese and about 110,000 are pre-diabetic. By 2050, it is estimated one in three Americans will have diabetes.
“So much goes into taking care of diabetes and pre-diabetic conditions in a comprehensive manner,” said Barrowman. “There is extensive lab work and monitoring and constant teaching and weight management and monitoring the patient’s performance on their current medication regiment. It’s a very complicated matter taking care of Type I diabetics, not to mention the growing number of Type II diabetics.”
At the same time that Ellis Medicine and St. Peter’s were discussing the formation of the new regional alliance they launched in June, the two hospital systems were also trying to grow their diabetes and endocrinology services.
The need was especially high in Schenectady, where just last fall a major health survey found diabetes and obesity to be among the top health concerns in the city’s poorest neighborhoods. Diabetes is particularly prevalent among Schenectady’s Guyanese population.
“[St. Peter’s] had a critical need at exactly the same time we did,” said Barrowman. “So it was crazy not to put our heads together to try to find a way to satisfy both of our immediate needs. It was serendipitous and convenient, really, that we had been talking about the alliance.”
There are no immediate cost savings for either hospital system. Any savings from operating a joint practice will likely be seen down the road, he said.
“We weren’t really doing it with financial considerations in mind,” he said. “We wanted to put together a center of excellence that would elevate diabetes and endocrine care in the region. But things like billing and medical records we would eventually put under the same kind of uniform practice.”
In addition, midlevel support staff such as nurse practitioners, physician assistants and diabetes educators could easily offer assistance from various locations as needed.
As health care moves toward population management, a big part of the Capital Region Diabetes and Endocrine Care program will involve coordinating care between diabetic care specialists and primary care providers.
Both inpatient and outpatient services will be offered in hospitals, rehabilitation and long-term care facilities, and community office settings. New patients are currently being accepted at Ellis Medicine’s Medical Center of Clifton Park (579-2750), Albany Memorial Hospital (471-3636) and Samaritan Hospital’s Family Medical Group in East Greenbush (286-1922). Locations are also being set up at Ellis Health Center’s Cushing building on McClellan Street and Sunnyview Rehabilitation Hospital in Schenectady.
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