Featured image: Terri Sakelaris, center, is surrounded by her Community Hospital Diabetes Center team, from left, James Strain, RN; Tina Campbell, RN; Julie Mantis, CNS; and Laila Khani, Operational Assistant.
Terri Sakelaris, a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator for Community Healthcare System, has spent decades helping people live their best life.
“Caring for our patients at Community Hospital’s Diabetes Center is not just about managing their health with medicine. It’s also about diet, stress management and services,” said Sakelaris, who has worked in healthcare for 40 years.
Community Healthcare System established a comprehensive support system for people who manage their diabetes. Community Hospital’s Diabetes Center offers resources, educational classes and support to help patients stay healthy.
A key piece of that work is providing patients with medical interventions that promote a healthy lifestyle through small changes.
“Listening is an important aspect of helping people succeed,” said Sakelaris, who also is a lifestyle coach certified through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Diabetes Association. “After learning about their life and work, I offer helpful information and two to three healthy lifestyle changes they can incorporate into their day.”
The support doesn’t stop with one visit. Sakelaris follows up with each patient to see how he or she is doing and offers additional advice and resources, if needed.
Sakelaris’ inspiration to help those managing diabetes, heart health and well-being began in childhood.
“I had family who were managing diabetes and heart disease,” she said. “I saw how nutrition can impact their health, mood and outcomes.”
Growing up in the South and later visiting, Sakelaris noticed a lot of unhealthy foods. High-sugar sweet tea and foods made with bacon grease and covered in gravy often were on the table. She saw a need to help people adjust recipes and make changes to live healthier.
“When I was younger, I became interested in nutrition for prevention and wellness to keep health concerns at bay,” she said.
Following her passion to help others got her into this career, but it is the bond with her Community Healthcare System colleagues that keeps her thriving.
“The Diabetes Center team is amazing,” Sakelaris said. “We are a family, a family that is there for each other and for every patient who turns to us for help.”
When not at work, Sakelaris enjoys spending time with her family, practicing yoga, trying new restaurants in the Chicago area and working in her yard.
To learn more about Community Healthcare System and its programs for a healthy lifestyle, visit COMHS.org.