by TERESA SCHIFFER
Sponsored by Central Florida Health Care
Central Florida Health Care is happy to welcome the newest member of the team, board certified endocrinologist Dr. Jessica Castellanos-Diaz-Diaz. As an endocrinologist, Castellanos-Diaz will be doing a lot of work with patients who are affected by diabetes or thyroid conditions.
Castellanos-Diaz is excited to step into her new role with the clinic, as Central Florida Health Care has identified a strong need for a specialist like her to help establish a diabetes management center in the main clinic.
“We have a high prevalence of diabetes; we have a lot of type 1 and type 2 patients,” she says of the populations served by Central Florida Health Care.
There are a number of factors that contribute to the area’s high rate of diabetes, and one major contributing factor is food insecurity. Individuals who lack consistent access to fresh, wholesome foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and other unprocessed staples, are at a higher risk for developing diabetes.
“Right now, what we are doing in the clinic is integrating diabetes technology. We are using continuous glucose monitoring, the clinic has been able to provide these to the patients,” Castellanos-Diaz describes.
The clinic is also starting training in using pumps with the help of certified diabetes educators for patients who qualify for the use of insulin pumps.
Castellanos-Diaz credits the team effort it’s taken to establish a dedicated diabetes clinic at the Davenport location, saying, “We have been very successful with everybody in the clinic making sure we have enough space to see as many patients per day as possible. We have been trying to do a special schedule where we see a lot of patients on weekdays for diabetes management, with the intention of making sure this population is being taken care of.”
“We are also taking advantage of the technology we have with telehealth, and we are bringing these services to the other clinics as well,” she says. Central Florida Health Care currently has 15 clinics throughout Central Florida. These new technologies give clinicians the ability to provide care to more patients by increasing access to care for individuals who have transportation or mobility issues.
Castellanos-Diaz continues to describe how she is able to expand care at the clinics.
“We are also helping with the OB/GYN department, because we have a high rate of gestational diabetes here, and we also have a high prevalence of type 1 and type 2 patients who do get pregnant, so we are taking care of those patients as well.”
Pregnant diabetic patients are given a high priority for care at Central Florida Health Care in order to ensure the health and well-being of both mother and child.
Polk County is home to a diverse population, and also to a large percentage of low-income individuals and families. Black and Hispanic populations tend to be at an increased risk of diabetes, as do low-income families. Food insecurity plays a large role in the prevalence of diabetes in these populations, highlighting the ongoing need to provide increased access to healthy foods to all citizens on a regular basis.
One of the first things that Castellanos-Diaz and the team at Central Florida Health Care do to assist a new diabetic patient is to educate them on the importance of making good food choices, managing portion control, and getting enough physical exercise. She emphasizes that it’s not necessary to join a gym or spend money to be physically active, there are numerous ways for patients to get the exercise they need, even if they have other health conditions that make vigorous activity difficult.