Highland Medical Center Adds Dietitian To Staff – Pt. 2

In Part One of this story, we met Cindy Maerz, the registered dietitian and diabetes educator at the Highland medical Center, and in Part Two, she talks more about her occupation, and how it relates to chronic illness.

“Anything food related, but probably the biggest piece of my job is helping with chronic disease management. So, someone may come to see a provider there for care for their diabetes, their high blood pressure, or maybe they’ve got a cholesterol issue going on, or some chronic kidney disease – all those kinds of chronic things that require regular management. I am the food piece of that, the diet piece of that.”

“So if somebody, we’ll use diabetes as an example, might come in, and they’re seeing their provider they’re working on their, if they need some medicine, or maybe it’s a new diagnosis and they say ‘I don’t want medicine let me manage it with diet’, I’m that piece to help them manage with diet. And some people come in and they know exactly – they’ll say, I’ve heard this a lot, ‘I know exactly what to do, I’m just not doing it,’ and I can help with that as well, you know, we can have that conversation of ‘Okay, what is, what is hard about these changes that you feel like you need to make but you just haven’t been able to make yet.’ So we can work on some goal setting and trying to fit those changes into their life in a way that works for them, as well as just managing food, but also managing things like checking blood sugar, adding physical activity, working, taking their medicines in a way that will have them be the most effective for managing their blood sugar.”

“I also love to get into the diabetes tech. So as they do more research and try more things, there’s lots of great new tech out there for helping folks manage their diabetes. It used to be, you can still prick your finger, but you don’t have to anymore, you can get a continuous glucose monitor. And instead of getting one little value of your blood sugar, you can get a value for every five minutes of your day. And now you have to not just deal with that one number but now you’ve got a lot of data. What do you do with it? What does this mean? And I can help with that as well.”

February is American Heart Month, and she spoke about how her specialty can help with heart disease.

“Well, for American Heart Month, the focus is really on paying attention to making sure you know your numbers, getting into see your primary care provider, so that, you know, they encourage folks get that cholesterol checked. Make sure your blood pressure is where it needs to be. And hopefully you’re following up with your provider and doing all that, but you go to them and they say your cholesterol is up a little bit or okay let’s look at your blood pressure a little bit. Those are both things that diet can help with, so we can talk about cholesterol. We can talk about those good plant fats, we can talk about saturated fats and also blood pressure we can look at ‘Okay, let’s examine where you are with your sodium intake.’ And on the flip side, we always want to decrease sodium – the flip side is this increase some of those other nutrients that are beneficial for blood pressure, so you’re decreasing sodium but let’s see if we can increase some potassium or magnesium and see if that can help.

“So we can kind of get down to that nitty gritty diet, things that can kind of augment what your primary care provider is helping you with as well.”

She noted her availability at HMC.

“I’m at the Medical Center on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. I do work on referral, so you do need a referral from your primary care physician to see me, which is not a problem at all. Any of the providers at the Medical Center can take care of that, or if you have another provider outside the Medical Center and would still like to see me, you can contact me and I will get you the directions to get that referral. And you can also call me at the Medical Center if you have any questions, and that’s 540-468-6400.”

Story By

Scott Smith

Scott Smith is the General Manager for Allegheny Mountain Radio and Station Coordinator and News Reporter for WVLS. Scott’s family has deep roots in Highland County. While he did not grow up here, he spent as much time as possible on the family farm, and eventually moved to Highland to continue the tradition, which he still pursues with his cousin. Unfortunately, farming doesn’t pay all the bills, so he has previously taken other jobs to support his farming hobby, including pressman/writer for The Recorder, and Ag Projects Coordinator for The Highland Center. He lives in Hightown with wife Michelle and son Ethan. In his spare time, he wishes he had more spare time, especially to ride his prized Harley-Davidson motorcycle. scott@amrmail.org

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