When pediatric endocrinologist Ramin Alemzadeh, MD, joined Le Bonheur in summer 2015, he envisioned creating a team-based program to help children living with diabetes.
Teamwork, Alemzadeh explained, is a key factor to building one of the country’s best pediatric diabetes programs.
Alemzadeh, who last July was named chief of Pediatric Endocrinology at Le Bonheur, specializes in management of type 1 and 2 diabetes, lipid disorders, metabolic bone disorders, polycystic ovary syndrome, disorders of growth and puberty and adrenal disorders. He comes to Memphis from the University of Illinois-Chicago where he was chief of the Division of Pediatric Endocrinology and Diabetes.
Creating one of the nation’s best diabetes centers and expanding Le Bonheur’s educational programs for families motivates Alemzadeh. He was drawn to diabetes care since its etiology is not clearly understood and hopes to help his patients better manage the disease.
“I have great regard for families who manage the day-to-day challenges with children who have type 1 diabetes,” he said. “It’s really about taking care of these families and providing a lot of support so they can navigate through the challenges of diabetes and make them successful adults. Our challenge is to provide the best care and also provide the tools and skill sets so they can become independent and are able to manage their diabetes as young adults and later.”
Endocrinology fellow Nader Kasim, MD, joined Le Bonheur in 2014 and has been on board with Alemzadeh’s priorities which include streamliningm patient care for newly diagnosed children with outpatient treatment. Previously, all new onset diabetics were admitted for an overnight stay in the hospital. But reducing or eliminating the need for an overnight stay helps relieve the burdens on families and also creates a “stress-free and reassuring environment.”
Alemzadeh also pioneered a team-based, multi- approach where nurses, dietitians, psychologists and physicians provide diabetes education and support for children and their families.
“He is striving toward integrating the multi-disciplinary teams that are a necessity for diabetes care,” Kasim said. “He is attempting to streamline the care for patients such that most of their needs can be addressed within one visit.”
The program is also training nurses to be diabetes educators.
“A clinic visit by a child and their family consists of initial evaluation by a nurse, followed by a dietitian and then by a physician or nurse practitioner,” Alemzadeh said. “When you are dealing with a chronic disease like diabetes, it’s not just a physician, but a team that can provide a lot of input and also strategically provide education.”
That education, Alemzadeh hopes, will lead to a healthier community and better preventative care of type 1 and 2 diabetes.
“He is unifying the division by creating protocols such that care can be seamless and unified among providers,” Kasim said. “His multi-disciplinary approach is also bringing improved diabetes care.”
Alemzadeh also has co-authored more than 60 publications in various medical journals, is the former the director of the children’s hospital diabetes program at Medical College of Wisconsin and the former director of pediatric endocrine and diabetes with the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in the 90s.
At Le Bonheur, he also plans to recruit more faculty and staff to help develop research and programs. Expanding the program also includes the hiring of Christy Foster, MD, a current fellow who will officially join in July.
“We hope that we are providing diabetes control for children in this area because while everybody is waiting for a cure of diabetes, we cannot afford having kids in poor control,” Alemzadeh said.“We’ve shown through studies that when you are able to control children’s blood sugar levels you can actually prevent complications of diabetes. It shows conclusively that you can prevent it.”
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