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Annual Symposium on Diabetes: "A Comprehensive Update for the Primary Health Care Provider"

Diabetes is a chronic, complex, and destructive disease that can cause a wide range of problems including kidney failure, heart disease, amputations, destructive periodontitis, and blindness. Approximately 16 million Americans have diabetes. Classified as a "chronic disease epidemic" by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the prevalence of diabetes has increased dramatically over the past forty years. This trend is especially significant among minority populations.

An interdisciplinary, team approach to diabetes management is essential. A recent American Public Health Association statement recommended comprehensive (interdisciplinary) care for all persons with diabetes, including high-risk populations of African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, and Native Americans.

Ft. Lauderdale, FL, was the site of the Second Annual Symposium on Diabetes: "A Comprehensive Update for the Primary Health Care Provider". The conference took place on Saturday, March 8, 2003 at The Health Professions Division of Nova Southeastern University (NSU). The goal of this symposium was to provide an interdisciplinary educational program that offers practical knowledge about diabetes to primary health care providers. It was designed to bring together primary care physicians and other health professionals who care for the patient with diabetes and manage complications of this disease. A multi-disciplinary faculty of acknowledged leaders in the field presented current and future concepts in clinical management, within a team-oriented model of primary health care.

Highlights of the symposium included Perspectives in Diabetes, a Keynote Session that featured noted author and expert on chronic disease management Catherine Feste, who drew upon her own experience of living well with diabetes. Ms. Feste presented several case studies in patient empowerment, and proposed a new chronic disease model in which patients are given the opportunity to explore healthy coping strategies. Today’s patient with diabetes is no longer a passive member of the health care team, but a primary decision-maker who draws upon the expertise of medical professionals.

The second keynote speaker was Alan Morrison, an osteopathic physician and internist who serves on The Diabetes Advisory Council for the State of Florida. Dr. Morrison presented a lecture entitled: Current Concepts in Diabetes Mellitus, in which he covered epidemiology, pathogenesis, risk factors, diagnostic criteria, and general manifestations of the disease.

These opening lectures effectively set the stage for the General Sessions, the first of which highlighted Diabetes in Youth. Pediatric endocrinologist Marco Danon presented timely information on Type 1 Juvenile Diabetes. Dr. Danon also teamed with pediatrician Edward Packer to discuss management of diabetes in children, using clinical guidelines and case examples. Dr. Packer went on to discuss The Importance of Recognizing Type 2 in Adolescents. The topical focus on pediatric issues continued with a discussion of Non-invasive Visual Assessment Instruments in Infants and People Living with Diabetes, by Eugenie Hartmann, who heads The NSU Eye Institute’s Visual Electrodiagnostics Service and conducts research in this area.

The second General Session reviewed common Complications of Diabetes. Optometric physician Alan Kabat discussed Ocular Manifestations of. This was followed by a review of Low Vision Rehabilitation for Patients with Diabetic Retinopathy, in which Dawn K. DeCarlo (a low vision optometric physician) and Elysa Lipschutz (an occupational therapist) explained the roles of rehabilitative optometry and occupational therapy in the management plan. Periodontist and researcher Irene Marron, reviewed Oral Health Issues in Diabetes, and she was followed by podiatrist Steven Spinner, who discussed Preventive Strategies for the Diabetic Foot.

Like the preceding General Session I and Keynote Session, the Focus on Complications included an interactive component in which a moderator asked the panel of speakers a series of questions submitted by the audience. This is where some of the most valuable, case-based discussions took place. In addition, a dynamic exchange of ideas ensued, as the various symposium attendees from the fields of medicine (both allopathic and osteopathic), dentistry, optometry, pharmacy, and allied health got together in the atrium during breaks and a casual luncheon. Equally impressive was that the symposium offered eight hours of Continuing Medical Education credit to each of these provider groups. The symposium’s Closing Session outlined A Global Approach to Diabetes Management. This session was led by a timely review of current Clinical Management Guidelines, in which family physician Joseph DeGaetano recommended an interdisciplinary, evidence-based model of care. Registered dietician and wellness expert Alix B. Landman presented current nutritional guidelines, as well as information on Diets, Herbs, and Supplements. Clinical pharmacist and diabetes patient educator Karen Daniel presented advances in Pharmacology, Insulin Delivery Systems and New Glucose Monitoring Devices. Closing out the program was an energetic discussion of The Role of Exercise and Physical Therapy in Diabetic Management by physical therapist Debra Stern.

This unique, multidisciplinary continuing medical education program met its primary goal of bringing together different types of health care professionals, presenting the most current, evidence-based practice guidelines, and fostering a team model of care for the diabetes patient.

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