News of the Center

News — Winter 2022
 Message from the Director

December 2021


Dear Friends,


This is a letter of thanks. We have all been through tough times lately, but there are some bright spots in the midst of all the difficulty.

For me, my best week was the week of December 6th. At the beginning of the week I learned that after several years of lobbying we managed to get continuous glucose monitors on the formulary for our underserved patients in Los Angeles County through the LA Department of Health Services. This is a huge win—not only we are the most populous county in the United States we have the most people with diabetes, both type 1 and type 2. Additionally, we also got the life-saving, but expensive, medications known as Jardiance and Ozempic on the formulary which will provide access to many people who need it.


At the end of the week I was in our clinic for people with type 1 diabetes in East LA. As always it was a mixed blessing—there are those we can help, but we still many young people who tragically have preventable, but now permanent kidney failure and/or blindness due to their diabetes. Yet every one of our patients had a continuous glucose monitor because of the efforts of ALL of us. We received funding from the Helmsley Charitable Trust, Insulin for Life, the Hankey Foundation and of those who donated to the USC Westside Center for Diabetes to make this happen. However, even with the new availability of continuous glucose monitors through the County healthcare system we still have patients who aren’t covered by MediCal and they will need continued support.


Our biggest hurdle now it to train both the providers and the patients how to use the new medications and devices. Our amazing grant from the Hankey Foundation allows us to create a system of remote monitoring combined with telemedicine to directly help our under-resourced patients. But we still need help to provide the education and skills to our patients and providers; to create systems of care that help reduce the shocking disparities brought to light by the pandemic we have all had to endure.


We are, however, making progress. I am grateful to all of you for your help and support. I realize that living with diabetes is always a challenge although hopefully we will get through this phase of COVID onto a less-restrictive future. In addition to the progress I am making at our Eastside Center, through the Westside Diabetes Center I am working with Vertex (Medscape video to come) on the development of a novel treatment for type 1 diabetes that involves stem-cell derived islet cells, which might change the face of diabetes within the next few years. I am also starting a study on the bi-hormonal pump (insulin + glucagon) in the spring. Therefore, there is reason to celebrate 2022, for all the potential that it holds in spite of the challenges.


Once again, a COVID update: Unfortunately, my patients are catching COVID again. And the Omicron variant is increasing in the US. However, I am MUCH LESS worried than I was a year ago because the majority of my patients have been vaccinated and received a booster. Which means that most of my patients will be fine. However, until we know otherwise, age (over 65) and being overweight are still risk factors, so get tested if you feel sick and if needed you can receive treatment within the first five days of illness. But if you haven’t been vaccinated yet – now is the time. If you only have one shot, get a second and get a booster when you are eligible. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines appear to require 3 doses to be optimally effective.  Other public health measures include mask wearing, social distancing and avoiding being indoors with groups of people, unless everyone is vaccinated and has a recent negative COVID test.


I remain deeply concerned for people who are not vaccinated, but for those of us who are we can still enjoy the holidays, albeit with more precautions than I’d hoped were going to be necessary.


With much appreciation,





PS. Thank you to those of you who have donated in the past. With the help of new donors and the continuing support of previous donors we can continue to do our part to improve the lives of people with diabetes. Go to our donation page to learn more about how you can help.


L A T E S T   N E W S



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