Type 1 diabetes is a disorder in which the body does not produce insulin. In Type 2 diabetes, the insulin the body produces is less efficient at moving sugar out of the blood stream, resulting in high blood sugar. Doctors typically treat Type 2 diabetes with diet exercise and weight loss, while Type 1 diabetics must take insulin shots to regulate their blood sugar levels.
“It’s important to me to educate people about the different types of diabetes because people would say to me ‘well, why doesn’t your granddaughter just change the way she eats,’” Mary Allen said.
She hopes the new center’s educational programs will help people in the community learn more about the disease. Mary Allen also is proud the center will provide care through doctor referrals of diabetics regardless of income.
Today, the Allens’ granddaughter, Hannah Gammon, of San Anselmo, is a freckled 11-year-old who controls her diabetes with an insulin pump, which infuses her body with insulin throughout the day.
About to enter the sixth grade, Hannah flew to Newport Beach to visit her grandparents for the grand opening of the new diabetes center on Saturday.
Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian doctor Kris Iyer, medical director of the new center, has dreamed of creating center at Hoag focused on all aspects of diabetic care for the past 15 years.
Iyer estimates that between 15% and 20% of Hoag’s inpatients on any given days have diabetes.
“This is a big problem all over the country,” he said.
A Type 1 diabetic himself, Iyer believes the Mary and Dick Allen Diabetes Center is one of the few of its kind in the region.
“The key is collaborating with different organizations to put the patient in the middle,” Iyer said, touting the new center’s partnerships with organizations like the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and the American Diabetes Assn.
The center will feature classes for diabetics to learn how to manage their diets and how to use insulin pumps, among other programs.