Rapid rise in diabetes spurs U-M to move,
expand endocrinology clinic

In response to a nationwide rise in diabetes, the U-M Health System plans to move, consolidate and expand its outpatient space for diabetes care and most other adult endocrinology services, with the new location opening in mid-2009.

The $4.5 million project, approved Sept. 18 by the Board of Regents, marks a major commitment by UMHS to provide comprehensive, coordinated care for adults who have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, thyroid disorders, osteoporosis and other hormone-related issues. The new space also will make it easier for patients to take part in clinical trials of new treatments or to volunteer for studies that seek to better understand their disease through the Michigan Diabetes Research & Training Center.

To be located at the Domino's Farms complex in northeast Ann Arbor, the 23,000-square-foot facility will include 23 outpatient exam rooms, specialized endocrine testing services, and space for people with diabetes to receive foot care from U-M podiatrists, and receive screening eye exams. The latter types of care address two of the major complications that affect most adults with diabetes over the course of time: potentially crippling foot and leg problems, and potentially blinding retinal disease.

Other specialized services at the new clinic will include a new pre-conception program for women who have either form of diabetes and are considering becoming pregnant; diabetes counseling and classes taught by certified diabetes educators; and rapid Internet-based consultation between endocrinologists at the clinic and U-M pathologists and eye specialists.

"By bringing nearly all of our resources to a single, much larger place, we'll be able to offer better care, and accommodate the growing need for our expertise that we know will only increase with time," says Dr. Craig Jaffe, the medical director of the Adult Endocrinology Clinic and a clinical associate professor in the Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology and Diabetes (MEND). "This new location will also be much more convenient for patients from around Michigan, who turn to us for care that's not available in many communities."

The new location will replace two current, much smaller clinics at the Taubman Center on the main U-M medical campus, and at the Briarwood complex in southern Ann Arbor. It will free up more space in the Taubman Center for other Department of Internal Medicine clinics.

Ryan Noel, the administrator for MEND who is working with Jaffe to plan the new space and the move, notes that the free and accessible parking and other U-M outpatient services offered at Domino's Farms should make the new location even more convenient for patients. The clinic is being laid out to make it easier for mobility-challenged patients — including people with diabetes who have suffered nerve damage in their feet and legs — to get to and from their appointments.

The new MEND site will allow for expansion of specialized testing done by the MEND Division. Included in the new location will be procedure rooms for doing dynamic testing of endocrine hormone levels secreted by different glands that work in tandem with one another. Such testing is not widely available, even at academic centers, and allows physicians to better delineate and understand abnormalities in hormone regulation.