Meet Dr. Uma Gunasekaran
Diabetes Specialist in Dallas
Endocrinologist Uma Gunasekaran, M.D., focuses almost exclusively on helping people with diabetes, who are living without adequate resources, manage their illness.
“I’ve always wanted to work with the underserved because I feel like I can make a real difference in someone’s life,” she says. “Diabetes can be challenging to manage even when you do have resources such as income, housing, and food – these are commodities that a lot of my patients struggle with.”
Unlike many of her peers, Dr. Gunasekaran must often make treatment decisions based on whether her patient has access to food three times a day or the money to purchase that day’s medication or supplies to test blood sugar levels.
Dr. Gunasekaran is the lead physician at the Outpatient Diabetes Clinic at Parkland Health & Hospital System. The clinic expanded in 2014, adding a secondary location in East Dallas as part of Parkland’s Global Diabetes Program, a multidisciplinary initiative to improve patient access to clinical care, improve and coordinate diabetes education programs for both patients and clinical staff, and connect patients to resources in their local communities.
Diabetes progresses differently in every patient, regardless of income or resources, Dr. Gunasekaran notes, adding that her approach for any patient is finding a reasonable treatment plan for that individual.
“The plan is unique for each patient. If you have a car, a job, a home, insurance to pay for medications, and the time to make lifestyle changes to take care of your diabetes, then our conversation will be different than the one I have with another patient who has three children and works three jobs; her focus is her kids and making sure there’s food on the table and there’s money to keep them clothed. She’s not as focused on whether she’s remembering to take her pills, check her blood sugar, or eat regular meals.”
Dr. Gunasekaran works with each of her patients to determine his or her priorities and discuss what’s reasonable in terms of day-to-day management of the disease.
“There’s no point in giving a patient an unrealistic goal; that’s just going to set him up for failure. So we work as a team,” she says. “It may take us a couple of visits before we make progress in controlling his blood sugar, but we develop a relationship. And that relationship is what will give us the power to change the course of his disease. That’s extremely satisfying.”
Dr. Gunasekaran also values working with the staff at Parkland.
“Everyone sees the potential for making a difference,” she says. “We have a lot of really great things going on at Parkland, and we’re always looking for new ways to help.”