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James Chu New Medical Doctor of hospital diabetes program

We've all heard the news - diabetes is on the rise in America. According to the Centers for Disease Control, diagnoses of this disease skyrocketed by 43 percent between 1997 and 2004, the latest available figures.

These days, an unprecedented amount of new information about diabetes prevention, care, medications, and treatment technologies is pouring out of research centers around the country. Keeping up with it all is daunting.

That's one of the reasons Community Hospital has named Dr. James Chu as the new medical director of its Diabetes Program. A board-certified endocrinologist specializing in diabetes care, he ensures that the latest findings in this field are reflected in the hospital's care guidelines and educational programs.

"My role is as a champion, if you will, of diabetes care and education," Chu says. "It's my job to make sure we're very vocal but rational about actions to improve patients' blood sugar level maintenance, cholesterol, blood pressure, and other health markers associated with diabetes."

Chu has a background in both medicine and diabetes research. He graduated from Stanford University School of Medicine and stayed on to investigate the role of insulin resistance in cardiovascular disease.

After joining the Stanford faculty as a clinical instructor, he entered private practice in Monterey County in 2004. Today, he is also medical director of the non-hospital-affiliated Monterey Endocrine and Diabetes Institute.

Chu oversees three aspects of the hospital's Diabetes Program: education, patient-care guidelines, and community diabetes classes. He meets with the hospital's nurse educators and dietitians - who teach newly diagnosed patients to manage their condition - to introduce new therapies and keep them abreast of the latest clinical trial evidence. He also teaches classes that focus on diabetes-related topics and are open to anyone in the community.

In particular, Chu hopes to update glucose control guidelines for patients admitted to Community Hospital. "In the past, we used to ignore blood sugar levels in favor of treating the problem at hand, such as a heart attack," he says. "But a lot of evidence gathered in the last five years shows that it's important to keep blood sugar levels as close to normal as possible in the hospital. You get improved cardiovascular health, decreased kidney and nerve problems, and better survival."
His overall goals for the program, he says, are simple: "We're striving to keep people healthy, educate them about the consequences of their condition, and prevent complications."