(l-r) Endocrinologist Dr Rajini Jayaballa and Community Diabetes Transitional Nurse Practitioner, Anandhi Murugesan with the four GP VMOs Dr Cathy Ngo, Dr Chitra Sivaramamoorthy, Dr Vivienne Sharma and Dr Aajuli Shukla, and dietitian, Victoria Silvestro.
Four General Practitioners in western Sydney will complete a six month VMO program with Western Sydney Diabetes this month, walking away with a myriad of new skills.
Every six months, the Western Sydney Diabetes’ (WSD) diabetes clinic at Mt Druitt Community Health Centre is looking for new GPs to join its six month VMO program.
The new clinic, officially opened on August 27, helps manage people living with complex Type 2 diabetes in Mt Druitt and Blacktown.
The clinic, which has been operational since May, is three years in the making — a continual collaborative effort from Blacktown Hospital and the WSD team.
WSD was established in response to the growing threat diabetes poses to the health and wellbeing of the western Sydney community.
Watch the video to learn more about the clinic: Mt Druitt Diabetes Clinic
Dr Chitra Sivaramamoorthy, Dr Aajuli Shukla, Dr Cathy Ngo and Dr Vivienne Sharma were the first GPs to join the new program to enhance their skills which will help manage their patients and reduce hospital waiting lists.
The clinic runs on a model where four GPs attend and see patients with complex Type 2 diabetes under the supervision of endocrinologists from WSD, a diabetes educator and a dietitian.
Referring GPs join the consults via telehealth to discuss their patient’s management plan.
WSD director Professor Glen Maberly said over the past four years, diabetes screening in general practices across Western Sydney Local Health District it was identified 17% of patients with diabetes and 27% with pre-diabetes.
But in Mt Druitt it was found 29% of patients had diabetes and 41% had pre-diabetes.
“Mt Druitt is central to our western Sydney diabetes hot spot,” Prof Maberly said.
“The community health centre is a location to help us support the needs of the community, including Aboriginal people and people from many cultures and backgrounds, important groups with a high prevalence of diabetes.”
Dr Aajuli Shukla and Dr Vivienne Sharma during case conferencing.
The clinic provides many services including diabetes self-management skills, dietary advice, eye screening, foot checks, and blood glucose monitoring technology to identify trends, such as unrecognised hypoglycaemia (abnormally low blood glucose).
“The aim of this clinic is to build the capacity of our GPs, to improve their diabetes management skills that can be applied to other patients they see,” Prof Maberly said.
Dr Sivaramamoorthy has been treating diabetic patients as a GP in Quakers Hill since 2011 and wanted to boost her skills in the management of diabetes to treat her patients better and stabilise them.
“Sometimes it’s a long waiting appointment for patients to be seen in the diabetic clinic,” Dr Sivaramamoorthy said.
“I am interested in knowing the updates, any change in treatment and I thought it would be a good opportunity to work as a team alongside endocrinologists to get first-hand information.
‘‘I now have more confidence and a better understanding of the use of CGM, adjusting insulin levels, which medication combination is better and what can be combined. But I found case discussion the most informative.”
Dr Shukla, a GP at The Practice Blacktown NSW, said the diabetes clinic was an “excellent learning experience”.
“It has enhanced my knowledge of management of chronic diseases in general,” Dr Shukla said.
“The emphasis is on collaboration between clinical staff and allied health. The goal is to recognise the important role a GP plays in the patient’s management of their diabetes and it has been heartening to see the emphasis on primary care innovation and partnership during my time as a GP VMO.”
The day starts with the Mt Druitt Diabetes team case conferencing with the GP VMOs.
Her colleague, Dr Ngo, said she can now confidently return back to her community general practice equipped with invaluable experience and knowledge that can help reduce the burden of diabetes mellitus, “which is far too common in our community”.
“I learnt how to better manage type 2 diabetes mellitus of all levels of complexities. This includes improving my confidence in choosing the right diabetic medications, interpreting continuous glucose monitoring and managing complications of diabetes mellitus,” Dr Ngo said.
Mt Druitt Medical Practice GP, Dr Vivienne Sharma, said she found the experience “extremely valuable”.
“My knowledge of diabetes and the myriad of treatment pathways has vastly improved, skills I can take back to my own practice to help my patients and colleagues alike,” Dr Sharma said.
“Managing the more complex cases with the support of the team at Mt Druitt was enjoyable and at all times I felt supported and respected for the experience I brought to the patient care as well.
“Conducting the clinics as case conferences with fellow GPs felt collegial and the care provided was welcomed.
“The time and experience can be used towards RACGP CPD points as well. I would like to thank the team at Western Sydney Diabetes for their time and patience and for working hard to get this beneficial program under way.”