Clinic names diabetes program in honor of Mayer Davidson

November 8, 2022

After spending hours in a chemistry lab by himself as an undergraduate, Dr. Mayer Davidson decided to go to medical school. He wanted to have more human interaction as he studied diabetes – “a very chemical disease,” he says – and have a more direct positive impact on people’s lives.

“The potential to help people with diabetes is very high,” he said. “But we have a ways to go.”

So this year, Dr. Davidson has made a new recurring gift to the Clinic to provide quality care to people with type 2 diabetes, which affects 12% of Venice Family Clinic’s patients. The Clinic will name the Mayer B. Davidson, MD Diabetes Program, which will encompass all the Clinic’s diabetes care, in recognition of Dr. Davidson’s consistent philanthropic support and his extraordinary leadership as the founder of Venice Family Clinic.

Knowing that expensive innovations in diabetes care, including new medications, more sophisticated glucose meters and test strips, and continuous glucose monitoring technology, could make a significant impact on the Clinic’s patients, Dr. Davidson felt the need to amplify his support for this practice area.

“There are so many possibilities for improving the lives of people who have diabetes with these developments in diabetes care. I want to direct the resources I have to help the Clinic’s patients,” he said.

Spreading knowledge and care

Dr. Davidson, who founded the Clinic in 1970 with Dr. Philip Rossman and is a world-renowned diabetes specialist, has trained 44 clinicians in diabetes care over the years, both at the Clinic and people working for Los Angeles County. In addition to caring for his patients throughout his career, teaching is a passion for Dr. Davidson, who does so knowing that the more clinicians he trains in diabetes care, the more patients will benefit.

One of those clinicians is Ligaya Scarlett, NP, who leads the diabetes program at Venice Family Clinic.

“I’ve grown immensely in my ability to care for my patients thanks to Dr. Davidson’s mentorship,” Scarlett said. “His willingness to share his expertise with anyone who is interested is invaluable. Diabetes care is very specialized and requires a lot of thought and consideration. I use what he has taught me every day to better serve our patients.”

The Clinic’s diabetes program integrates primary care, health education, vision and pharmacy. This kind of coordination is important for diabetes patients because the disease can all-too easily affect many parts of the body: Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in working-age adults. Over 50% of people on dialysis need it because of complications from diabetes. The disease can lead to amputations because of related nerve damage. And people with diabetes have a higher mortality rate from heart attacks and strokes than people who don’t have the disease.

For patients with uncontrolled, very high A1c levels (an average blood glucose concentration for the past 3 to 4 months above 9%), the Clinic enrolls them into a specialized program, the Leonard M. Lipman Diabetes Management Program, which Dr. Davidson designed eight years ago based on his previous successes at UCLA Health, Cedars-Sinai, City of Hope and Los Angeles County. Specially trained nurse practitioners and health educators work closely to manage these patients’ conditions, spending more time and checking in with patients more frequently than in traditional primary care models. Those patients who complete the program get results: In 12 months, 91% of patients have lowered their A1c levels below 7.5%, which greatly reduces the probability of patients getting worse or developing new complications.

The Clinic has a work group that meets regularly to share diabetes knowledge and best practices. The group includes nurse practitioners and health educators, as well as representatives from pharmacy, quality improvement, a physician champion and Dr. Davidson.

The newly named Mayer B. Davidson, MD Diabetes Program also includes a point-of-care machine that provides rapid results of A1c levels during appointments, and access to technology that allows diabetes clinicians to read glucose meters remotely. Together, these innovations allow for quicker adjustments to medication dosing, which not only saves patients and clinicians precious time, but also ensures patients get what they need as efficiently as possible.

Looking ahead

For 50 years Dr. Davidson volunteered his time to care for the Clinic’s patients with diabetes and other endocrine diseases, and he continues to consult with the Clinic’s clinicians on both.

“The complications of diabetes are so devastating, but they don’t have to be, if we can help patients get it under control,” he said. “To address this public health epidemic, we need to take an all-hands-on-deck approach. Having more support for diabetes care would make a huge difference to Venice Family Clinic’s patients.”