On The Move

Internal medicine, obesity medicine physician joins Firelands Center for Coordinated Care

Submitted by FRMC

SANDUSKY – The Center for Coordinated Care at Firelands Regional Medical Center and Firelands Physician Group are excited to announce the addition of Don Cundiff, MD, to their teams.

Cundiff, dual board certified in internal medicine and obesity medicine, will focus specifically on weight management, nutrition and diabetes care.

“I am thrilled to be coming back home to Erie County and Firelands Regional Health System.  The ability to continue to grow the health system’s thriving weight management and nutrition program and focus on other interrelated chronic disease processes will provide a significant community impact over time. Both diabetes and obesity were listed as top priority areas on the latest Community Health Needs Assessment in our area,” he said.

The health system’s approach to chronic disease management focuses on multidisciplinary collaboration with the primary care provider and patient at the center of care decisions.

“Optimal treatment of diabetes is not just about hemoglobin A1C and medications,” said Cundiff. “Lifestyle change is key to avoiding the progression and complications common to type 2 diabetes. We must treat the metabolic syndrome, metabolic dysfunction and inflammation that accompany an unhealthy lifestyle. We will try to make these lifestyle changes fun, sustainable, contagious, and socially applicable.”

According to Cundiff, the program at Firelands Center for Coordinated Care is different from other weight management programs in the area.

“We treat obesity as an energy imbalance disease,” he said. “Our goal is to help each individual patient better understand their complex genetic, biologic and environmental risk factors that can cause their brain to defend the higher weight. If the patient understands how their brain behaves in our modern world, it makes it much easier to make the necessary lifestyle changes for long- term sustainable weight loss. We will look at how medications can be employed to help our patients lose and maintain lost weight and to help combat the short- term and long-term responses the brain has to weight loss.”

A resident of Huron, Cundiff was previously a practicing internal medicine physician for 22 years in the area. He made the decision to practice full-time with Beth Israel Lahey Health in Boston to receive additional specialty training in obesity medicine. For the last year and a half, he would travel to Boston during the week, then on the weekends return home to his family in Huron. For the first five years, his family lived in Boston with him.

“I was always interested to learn more about common medical conditions like diabetes, hypertension, cholesterol disorders, heart disease and depression, rather than the rare diseases I might never see,” he said. “I did not feel I was trained enough in medical school on the nutritional and lifestyle treatments needed to address and treat these conditions at their root cause, which is primarily an unhealthy diet, increased weight gain around the belly, inadequate or poor sleep, and uncontrollable stress.”

According to Cundiff, his additional training and board certification will allow him to better care for his patients, bringing that next level of care to the area:

“I now better understand the complexity of these common diseases, treatment options and the time, effort, and the skills it takes to better optimize health. Combining the multidisciplinary care team approach that the Firelands Center for Coordinated Care already has in place and meshing that with my training, I think our program will offer a unique approach to patients and families in our region. Through our hardworking, knowledgeable, caring, multifaceted approach, our patients will decrease unhealthy fat, feel better, and significantly improve many chronic health problems.

Free introductory classes are available for those interested on Tuesdays at 5 pm. To reserve a spot in the class or make an appointment with Dr. Cundiff, please call 419-557-6550.