Dr. Rachelle Darout

Diabetic Patients Connect with Doctor, Each Other During Group Visits at LCHC

Meet Rachelle Darout, MD, a new family physician at Lynn Community Health Center.  She joined the health center medical staff this fall after she completed her Doctor of Family Medicine at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, and her residency at the Montefiore Medical Center, in New York. 

Dr. Darout is a family doctor who sees patients of all ages.  She has a special interest in patients with Diabetes, and in January became one of two providers at Lynn Community Health Center to treat adult diabetic patients in a group setting.  Eight patients attended her first group on January 15, including a three-generation trio of a son, mother, and grandmother.  The group is committed to meeting twice a month for the next six months to work to get their diabetes under control.

Diabetes is a disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin, a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life. The cause of diabetes is a mystery, although both genetics and environmental factors such as obesity and lack of exercise appear to play roles.

There are different types of the disease, but most people develop Type 2 diabetes as adults.  It is a demanding and difficult chronic condition which changes life dramatically for a patient. Food choices, exercise, multiple medications, doctor visits, and blood tests become everyday concerns. Many individuals who suffer from diabetes also have other conditions, including high blood pressure and depression, which further complicate treatment.

The health center has over 1500 diabetic patients, many of whose diabetes is not well controlled.  “Why is this?” asks Dr. Darout.  “No one wants to be sick.  But it can be very hard to manage a disease that requires constant monitoring and multiple medications.  It is especially difficult for those who have language or educational barriers to learning how to manage their disease.” 

Like all doctors, Dr. Darout’s time with any individual patient is limited, but grouping patients together allows her to see each patient individually, and then spend quality time with the group.  Although her time with each patient is still short, she can work with a team of nurses and clinical assistants to create an environment of support that includes support between patients. 

Dr. Darout has also included other LCHC providers with special training and expertise to address certain issues, including Stephanie Convey, NP, who will talk to the group about nutrition; Christine Chim, PharmD, who will address medication management; Roz Puleo, NP, who will promote exercise and fitness; and Deb Newborg, PsyD, who will talk about psychosocial barriers to self-management.

Group visits are different from group education classes or support groups. They provide similar support for self-management skills, but they also provide medical evaluation, medication adjustment, care coordination, and preventive services.  The visits provide a setting where patients feel safe asking questions and expressing their concerns about their diabetes.

Dr. Darout’s group will follow a curriculum that includes topics such as managing or preventing high blood pressure, nutrition, exercise and weight loss, and medication management.  She has even planned a Zumba class and a trip to the grocery store to talk about healthy and affordable food choices.

Being able to express feelings and concerns in a supportive environment can be therapeutic and often leads to a higher rate of compliance to diet, exercise, and medication regimens.  “That is our ultimate goal—that the patients achieve successful self-management of their diabetes,” says Dr. Darout.  “I tell them that we are here to encourage them, but only they have the power to bring their disease under control.”