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Staff Spotlight: Elizabeth Dickinson, Inpatient Diabetes Care

UMass Memorial is revolutionizing diabetes care for all hospital patients living with type 1 or type 2 diabetes

Date Posted: Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Elizabeth Dickinson, MS, FNP-C

- Inpatient Nurse Practitioner, UMass Diabetes Center of Excellence
- Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) Master’s degree in Nursing from Boston College
- Currently enrolled in Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree at UMass Amherst.

As a student, her preceptor was a diabetes specialist. Learning from him, Liz took an interest in diabetes patient management. Her professional interests include: promoting overall wellness and prevention, providing information and treatment plans in an achievable manner, and working with a culturally diverse population.

- Originally from Plymouth, Liz currently lives in Boston. 
- Favorite Television Series: Stranger Things
- Favorite Movies: Hairspray & My Big Fat Greek Wedding
- Hobbies: Kickboxing, cooking, scenic walks
- Favorite Restaurant: Legal Seafood
- Favorite Author: David Sedaris

The Problem

One third of patients that enter the hospital have diabetes. Some will visit the Emergency Room or be admitted to the hospital for hyperglycemia (high blood sugar), hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), and/or other symptoms, including excessive thirst/dehydration, frequent urination, and weight loss. These people may become diagnosed with type 1 or type 2 diabetes for the first time. Many others will already have diabetes, and are undergoing a surgery or procedure, or are being treated for another chronic illness, or complication from diabetes.

Our Focus

Our goal is to improve glycemic control in people with diabetes, no matter why they were admitted to the Hospital, Emergency Room or Critical Decision Unit.  The UMass Diabetes Center of Excellence inpatient team works with primary care teams and other specialists to make recommendations for the diabetes care during their stay.   

New Diabetes Diagnosis

Our inpatient team works closely with those getting diagnosed with diabetes for the first time, ensuring that they learn everything needed to leave with “diabetes survival skills.” We make sure the transition home is smooth, by coordinating necessary medication prescriptions and follow-up appointments.

Challenges

Medication and treatment options are often based on health insurance benefits of the person being treated. Our team provides the best possible course of action within the allowable coverage. They discuss cost and options with each person to determine medication and treatment that can be adhered to for successful diabetes management.

Frustrations

Some people cannot afford medications, so they don’t fill their prescriptions or insulin. By not following their treatment plan, blood glucose levels will remain out of control. Neglecting diabetes often leads to serious complications down the road, including heart disease, stroke, diabetic eye disease, neuropathy and in some cases, amputation of limbs. 

Inpatient Diabetes Education

The inpatient blood glucose management service collaborates with nursing staff to provide education to patients about diabetes medications, glucose meters, and insulin use. Patients are taught how to check their blood sugar using a blood glucose meter, and how to treat low blood sugar. Our team preaches the importance of getting and keeping blood glucose and the A1c in a healthy range.    

Our diabetes patients, no matter what brought them to the hospital or ER, receive the most up to date treatment options and educational resources, including insulin training. We teach them with their own meters, pumps and insulin delivery methods.

Follow-up Care

We work with their primary care physician, or if necessary, help them to identify one. Our inpatient diabetes care team arranges the follow-up care needed after the hospital stay.  Before going home, all necessary follow-up outpatient visits are scheduled.

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