Diabetes Symposium Shifts Online

Lori Beth De Hertogh

In the fall of 2019, 4-VA awarded Lori Beth De Hertogh a grant to develop and host a statewide symposium on diabetes with her team, but little did anyone know that a global pandemic would suddenly change their course. Originally scheduled for June, the symposium will now be held online in November of 2020.

I am really proud of our team—as soon as things started to change due to COVID, we immediately came together to figure out a way to host the Symposium and to meet the needs of attendees. We were determined to not give up on this opportunity because so many people with diabetes in our state need care and support.

“The original focus of the Symposium was on bringing together medical humanities faculty and students, diabetes educators, healthcare professionals and health profession students, and community members from western and central Virginia to develop interdisciplinary research initiatives around diabetes care in the state. The idea is that we didn’t know what the research initiative was going to be headed into the Symposium, but that we would identify that research trajectory/need collectively.

When the pandemic happened and so much healthcare suddenly shifted into the sphere of telemedicine, we realized that this mode of healthcare was where our research and collaborative energies needed to go. Even after the pandemic is over, we will all certainly continue to see a trend toward telemedicine for diabetes care as well as for a range of other health needs. So focusing on telemedicine seemed like a prudent shift because it recognizes not only where we find ourselves now, but where we’re headed in the future.

At first we discussed the possibility of trying to host the Symposium in person, but then we realized we’d be devoting a lot of energy to maintaining social distancing and less time actually talking about ideas for how to improve diabetes care in Virginia. So it made sense to shift online because we can still have dynamic, rich conversations about diabetes care in the state, while not having to worry about participants’ health and safety. We understand that there could be technological barriers for some Symposium participants, and we’re currently working on how to address those potential barriers to increase access.”

Symposium Organizers

Cynthia Martin
Instructor of Writing, Rhetoric and Technical Communication

Julie Pierantoni
Registered Nurse

Dave Dixon
Associate Professor of Ambulatory Care

Teresa Salgado
Assistant Professor of Pharmacotherapy & Outcomes Science

Evan Sisson
Associate Professor of Pharmacy