Pursuing a passion: Doctor strives to educate community about diabetes

Educating the Blue Water area about diabetes is a priority for Dr. Sushma Reddy.
Dr. Sushma Reddy wants people of the Port Huron region to know that diabetes is a preventable disease.

 

The doctor, who calls the Blue Water region home, is focused on helping the community reduce its risk for the illness.

 

As part of the Lake Huron Medical Group, Reddy is well-known for her work in diabetes care, and her grassroots efforts to improve overall community health.

 

Reddy has focused most of her decades-long career trying to prevent diabetes in St. Clair County.

 

She has contributed to multiple programs around the county dedicated to improving healthy habits of the community, because there is one thing about the disease that a lot of people do not seem to know about.

 

"Diabetes IS preventable," she says.

 

And if not treated, there can be a host of devastating consequences.

 

During her years as a doctor, she has seen many children come to her overweight, or with other risk factors, and know that it could have been preventable.

She had a 12-year-old patient who was overweight and had elevated blood sugars, and by the age of 18 had lost a toe, was on dialysis at 24, and had died by the age of 26.

Another patient came to her overweight, but ended up joining the basketball team at school, and a year later, was doing great and showed no signs of risk for diabetes.

Taking early steps to prevent diabetes is the best step.

Dr. Sushma Reddy talks to patient Magen Chavarria.Knowing if you are at risk for the disease isn't always is to spot, Reddy says.

"Your blood glucose may be elevated, you may be urinating many times, have blurry vision, and weight loss," she listed, as well as others such as yeast infections or having trouble with wounds healing.

 

Those symptoms may indicate that a patient is at risk for developing Type 2 diabetes, which is the preventable type. Type 1 diabetes is different from Type 2 in that it is congenital and there is a lack of insulin in the body.

 

For pre-diabetes, blood sugar levels from a fasting glucose test could be anywhere from 100 to 125. Anything over 125 is considered Type 2 diabetes. For comparison, a healthy adult without diabetes would have a blood glucose level of under 100.

 

"People that may be at risk for diabetes are those with a family history of the disease, certain ethnic minorities, and those with a sedentary, or unhealthy, lifestyle," she says.

 

To combat that, Reddy suggests taking advantage of the many programs and healthy initiatives offered throughout the county.

 

"The Blue Water Area is beautiful," she says. "There is plenty to do outdoors, with the trails, walking trails, biking trails, and the water--you have to take advantage of it."

 

Along with the outdoor trails, Reddy has been instrumental in several other programs across the county for preventative diabetes care.

 

As a member of the St. Clair County Medical Society Foundation, Reddy has been involved with the implementation of the Blue Water Walking Club program in partnership with the YMCA and the St. Clair County Healthy Lifestyles Workgroup.

The walking group is comprised of groups around the community interested in walking as a team of 5-10 participants and who must walk a minimum of 30 minutes three to five times a week for six to eight weeks.

Participants will receive health information as well as information on events in the area. All members will also receive a free Family Day Pass at the YMCA. For more information on the walking group and for additional information on healthy programs, visit http://www.bluewaterymca.com/.

Reddy is also involved with the Walk for Summer Reading program, and is the co-chairperson for the St. Clair County Community Services Coordinating Body Healthy Lifestyles Workgroup.

Another program helped children not only enjoy healthy activities, but also encourages interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics)-related fields.

"The Green Read and Ride Program was an initiative with the Community Foundation, where the kids at Avoca Elementary Dr. Sushma ready begins an exam on Magen Chavarria, 25, of Port Huron.School received a classroom of ‘green bikes,' which generated electricity while the kids were biking and reading," she says. "This program created an interest in STEM as the kids generated energy, were physically active and improved their reading skills."

Reddy was inspired to focus on diabetes care after taking a physiology course in college.

 

"Physiology is the study of how hormones work--I was fascinated by that, and the effect they have on the whole system," she says.

Endocrinology is a branch of medicine and biology that deals with the collection of glands, the secretions--hormone--that it produces, and its diseases.

Her passion for helping patients improve their lives is also evident in the many awards she has received

Some of her honors include the People's Choice Award for Governor's Fitness Award, Hometown Health Hero Award Michigan Department of Community Health, and the Michigan State Medical Society Community Service Award.

Reddy also received a Spirit of Port Huron Award Cultural award, Women of Distinction from the Michigan Waterways Council of Girl Scouts, and the John R. Hogan Humanitarian Award. She was one of Blue Water Woman's Women of the Year in 2016.

"One needs to give back [to the community]," she says.

Reddy was born in Seattle, but soon moved to India, where she lived everywhere from big cities to remote villages.

Dr. Sushma Reddy finishes paperwork.She attended medical school and completed her rotating internship there before moving to Detroit, where she had family friends.

At Wayne State University, she completed her residency in Internal Medicine, and eventually landed in the Blue Water region.

"My husband, who is a cardiologist, and I were traveling to Canada, and we crossed the Blue Water Bridge," she says. "And I just thought, ‘wow, what a beautiful place!'" They both fell in love with the area and decided to call it home.

Reddy was soon accruing licenses, board certifications, academic and hospital appointments and many awards and honors.

"I like a lot of things. I am interested in many things," she says. "I live here, work here, and play here. I would have been a teacher if not a doctor. I love kids. Whether that's education or health, I'm interested in it."

Reddy found herself volunteering for many events at her children's schools, taking over the Science Club at one point, and giving her time to a variety of other events and programs.

Reddy hopes that people continue to invest in preventative diabetes measures across the county, especially the children.

"Every child deserves a great start," she says.


 
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