Written by Alix Boyle. Photography courtesy of Middlesex Health
Patients who live along the shoreline have long enjoyed using the services at Middlesex Health’s Shoreline Medical Center in Westbrook, including the emergency department, radiology and oncology. Now, along with receiving world-class care right in their own neighborhood, patients can access a greater array of services, thanks to a recently completed expansion.
“When we built the Shoreline Medical Center years ago, we had reserved some space on the second floor for some potential future use,” said Dr. David Cosentino, chief medical officer at Middlesex Health. “We’ve recognized that there’s a need for more specialty care along the shoreline area, and we are bringing some of those services that we offer in the Middletown area, to the shoreline. We’ve always had our primary care office there; we’ve had a smattering of some of our specialty positions like endocrinology, general surgery, breast surgery and infectious disease. By opening this additional space, we’re going to have more consistency with that care. We’re also bringing in OB/GYN and urology for the first time.”
Many medical services are offered at Middlesex Health’s Shoreline Medical Center. However, you will need to go to Middletown for in-patient hospitalizations. A convenient location is particularly helpful for diabetes patients who may need to visit their doctors every three months, said Dr. Christine Signore, a Middlesex endocrinologist.
After noticing a need for more endocrine care along the shoreline, Middlesex Health hired a new endocrinologist. Patients will be able to book appointments at Shoreline five days a week.
Endocrinology encompasses a wide range of conditions including diabetes; thyroid disease; endocrine cancers like thyroid cancer; adrenal cancers; and more rare issues, such as pituitary or adrenal disorders, and osteoporosis or problems of calcium metabolism. Middlesex Health will also offer transgender care for adult patients in Westbrook. (Adolescent patients seeking gender-affirming care will be seen in Middletown.)
But diabetes remains a very busy part of endocrinology.
“The numbers are pretty staggering,” Signore said. “There are about 37 million patients in the United States with diagnosed diabetes. That’s about 11 percent of the population. There are about another 8 million patients that we estimate have diabetes, but just don’t know it, yet.”
Over the last few years, there’s been an explosion of new drugs on the market to help manage patients more effectively with type 2 diabetes, Signore said. Perhaps the most noted is Ozempic, or semaglutide, which helps the pancreas release the correct amount of insulin when you eat to help lower blood sugar. It also helps patients to lose weight by decreasing appetite and slowing down the emptying of the stomach after a meal is eaten.
Many people with diabetes can be successfully managed by their internist, with no need to see a specialist in endocrinology. But, others, like patients with type 1 diabetes and those patients with medical complications, will need to see their endocrinologist. Some patients can control their diabetes through diet and exercise alone.
“Lifestyle plays a huge role in the management of diabetes,” Signore said. “We have a registered dietician, who is also a certified diabetic educator. Ideally, we like our patients to be able to come in, meet with their provider and also meet with the dietician, or what we call the certified diabetic educator, so that we can really work as a team to talk about healthy lifestyle habits that will serve them well, in their day-to-day life.”
Studies have shown that losing as little as 10 pounds will have a direct, positive impact on blood sugar control, Signore said.
Middlesex Health’s Shoreline Medical Center offers a full cancer center. Middlesex Health is the only system in the northeast that’s affiliated with the world-renowned Mayo Clinic so that patients have the benefit of second or concurring opinions about their condition.
Middlesex Health has been awarded the Leapfrog grade A for patient safety and is listed in Healthgrades Top 100, both industry standards for the safest and highest quality care, Cosentino said.
“What makes Middlesex special is our providers’ approach to care,” Signore said. “Our providers are very dedicated and have this team-based approach. A lot of our patients do have chronic illnesses that impact them in every aspect of their daily life. I think our providers are very good at getting to know their patients, getting to know what’s important to their patients, helping them feel better, but also helping them find strategies to succeed in living a healthy life and being able to do the things that they really enjoy.”
In addition to the caring staff and all the services offered, the facility is located just off I-95 and has easy and plentiful parking.
“For most people healthcare is local, they want to get their health care in a local market. And so what we’ve tried to do within our community is to strategically place facilities and services so that people throughout our community have access to care local to where they live,” Cosentino said.