Marin General Hospital Opens Unique Outpatient Diabetes Center

Braden Diabetes Center, is the “premier diabetes program in the Bay Area”

GREENBRAE, CA — Marin General Hospital has opened the Braden Diabetes Center (BDC), a comprehensive outpatient diabetes education program that provides self-management skills training, treatment, and on-going guidance for patients with diabetes and their families. The BDC is located at 1100 South Eliseo Drive, Suite 2, in Greenbrae.

Initial funding for the BDC came from a generous gift from Bruce Braden, a local entrepreneur who was diagnosed with Type I diabetes at the age of 38. His successful treatment — which included a complete transformation of his diet and exercise habits — led him to realize that education and self-management skills are vital for people to overcome diabetes.

“Marin General Hospital has been at the forefront of achieving hospital-wide awareness of diabetes and best practices for management,” said Dr. Joel Sklar, Chief Medical Officer at Marin General Hospital. “With the exciting opening of the Braden Diabetes Center we can extend our services and expertise beyond hospital walls and make a significant improvement in the health of the community we serve. We are raising a flag and setting a new standard for diabetes care.”

Dr. Linda Gaudiani, who developed and has directed the hospital’s highly successful multi-faceted inpatient Keys to Control program for diabetes care since 2006, is the medical director of the BDC. Mindy Schwartz, MSN, certified diabetes educator is the clinical program manager.

“In the hospital, specially-trained nurses and diabetes champions create a culture of diabetes awareness throughout all the units in order to effectively manage blood sugars during procedures, surgeries and acute medical illnesses,” says Dr. Gaudiani. “But upon returning home, between medication changes and new diagnoses, effective treatment strategies can become destabilized, resulting in complications and even readmissions. Through the educational resources at the Braden Diabetes Center and collaboration with primary care physicians – which is especially important – we can significantly reduce complications and readmissions, relieve some of the burden on our primary care physicians, and markedly improve patient outcomes and satisfaction.”

At the core of the BDC is teaching of self-management skills to patients with diabetes and their families, including dietary/nutritional therapy and patient friendly self-monitoring technologies. Classes and clinics focus on lifestyle and preventive measures, peer support, intensive management strategies and insulin therapy, as well as use of technologies such as glucometers and insulin pumps.

Recently, Marin General Hospital acquired the well-respected Ross Valley Pharmacy Diabetes Self Management Program, pioneered by Paul Lofholm. This intensive American Diabetes Association (ADA) certified course is designed to teach patients how to incorporate appropriate exercise, nutrition and calorie management into their daily living.

“This is now the premier diabetes program in the Bay Area,” says Dr. Sklar. “Marin County primary care physicians can refer their patients to the Braden Diabetes Center, knowing they will find necessary support and resources.”

According to Dr. Sklar, a major goal of the BDC is to maintain active communication with and educational support for, the primary care physicians serving those in Marin with diabetes. “The BDC should serve as a resource to those physicians, extending their abilities to care for their patients with diabetes,” he says.

The Braden Diabetes Center provides ongoing resources for patients of all ages, at every stage of the disease. “Traveling well through life with diabetes is our motto and emphasizes the ongoing nature of this lifelong challenge,” says Dr. Gaudiani.

As one example, Dr. Sklar cited the BDC’s collaboration with UCSF perinatal specialists to work with pregnant women with diabetes, as well as to manage gestational diabetes, which can pose significant risks for both mother and child. “Gestational diabetes is often a precursor of later full-blown diabetes. It’s critical to get women into care early for prevention,” says Dr. Sklar.

Even in health-conscious Marin, diabetes rates are soaring, with 7,500 of the county’s approximately 200,000 adults having been diagnosed with diabetes. About 1.5 percent of Marin’s 18-44 year-olds, 4.1 percent of 45-64 year-olds and 8.2 percent of adults over 65 in the county have diabetes. Nationally, approximately 8.3 percent of the total population has diabetes.

Marin General Hospital sees about 1,000 admissions annually involving diabetes; they are hospitalized three times more frequently than diabetes-free patients. 

“What’s really troubling is that many individuals with Type 2 diabetes don’t even know they have the condition,” says Dr. Gaudiani. “If the disease goes untreated or is diagnosed late, it can cause coronary and peripheral vascular disease (two to four times higher incidence), kidney disease and blindness. “Fortunately, most people can avoid complications with better care.”

Braden knows from his own experience the potential difference that the BDC can make. “Diabetes is very treatable disease,” he says. “There’s no reason you can’t live a long and healthy life if you take care of it appropriately. But when you don’t—and the system starts to fail—it can fail in a big way. The goal is to prevent that from happening.”

(Special Note: The Braden Diabetes Center Open House will be held on February 12, 2013 from 5 – 7 PM, the public is welcome to join us.)