Karen Hollis, RDN, LDN, CDCES has joined the UM Shore Regional Health Center for Diabetes and Endocrinology as lead diabetes educator.
Hollis, who is a registered dietitian as well as a certified diabetes care and education specialist, has long been associated with the Dorchester and Easton hospitals and the diabetes education program at both facilities. She has four decades of experience including outpatient nutrition education, clinical staff responsibilities and clinical management. From 2006 to 2018, she served as nutrition consultant for Chesapeake Woods in Cambridge, and from 2006 to 2012, she ran a successful private practice business for several local physicians in Talbot and Dorchester counties.
As lead diabetes educator, Hollis oversees and provides group and individual diabetes self-management training (DSMT) and medical nutrition therapy (MNT) for adults with pre-diabetes and diabetes. In addition, she educates patients in the use of a variety of diabetes care devices, conducts outreach and participation in community programs, and manages the monthly diabetes support group for residents of Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Talbot counties that is currently conducted via Zoom.
“I am very excited to serve the Center for Diabetes and Endocrinology as lead educator,” says Hollis. “Throughout my career, I have had a passion for providing education and support to people with diabetes.”
Pre-diabetes and diabetes is a serious and growing problem population health problem in the U.S. According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in 10 Americans has the disease and approximately one in three has prediabetes. The Maryland State Department of Health’s Diabetes Action Plan reflects the seriousness of the problem in Maryland: Diabetes is the sixth leading cause of death in the state, and a total of 2.1 million Marylanders are believed to have either diabetes or pre-diabetes, incurring nearly $5 billion on medical costs annually. Caroline and Dorchester are among Maryland counties with the highest adult diabetes rates – 11 to 15 percent.
Hollis notes that without effective treatment and management – which for many patients, includes learning to how to make dietary and lifestyle changes – diabetes can be very debilitating and even deadly. “Education is imperative — not only to help those with pre-diabetes avoid progressing to Type 2, but to help those who are diagnosed with the disease to halt or at least delay the progression of complications that can be life-limiting and even life-threatening,” she says. “The staff and providers at the Center for Diabetes and Endocrinology are dedicated to providing not only treatment and care, but also the best education and support, for our community members who are battling this disease.”
Diabetes management classes are conducted each month at Shore Medical Center at Chestertown as well as at the Diabetes Center at Shore Medical Center at Easton. “We are holding in-person classes, but due to COVID-19, there is a limit of five students per class for social distancing purposes, and of course, masks are required,” says Hollis.
Each class runs for three sessions, one session per week. The Chestertown class is taught by diabetes nurse educator Chrissy Nelson, who also works with patients on an individual basis to manage their symptoms, medication and care products.
Individual diabetes support and medical nutrition therapy are provided on-site, but Hollis and Nelson also work with patients via telehealth. “I’ve seen some patients via Zoom, but many more by phone,” she says. “In some areas of our region, internet access is unreliable or not available, and many older patients are not computer savvy. So they can call from their smartphone, flip phone or landline to get the guidance they need.”
For more information about diabetes care and support offered by UM Shore Regional Health, call 410-822-1000, ext. 5757, or visit https://www.umms.org/shore/health-services/diabetes-endocrinology.
As part of the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS), University of Maryland Shore Regional Health is the principal provider of comprehensive health care services for more than 170,000 residents of Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Talbot counties on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. UM Shore Regional Health’s team of more than 2,200 employees, medical staff, board members and volunteers works with various community partners to fulfill the organization’s mission of Creating Healthier Communities Together.