Fran Cogen, MD, CDE, Director of the Childhood and Adolescent Diabetes Services at Children’s National Health System, has been part of the Children’s National team for 20 years. The defining moment of her career at Children’s was the opening of the Washington Nationals Diabetes Care Complex in June of 2013. “The Diabetes Care Complex had been a lifelong dream and that ribbon cutting ceremony was like having a vision and actually seeing it come true,” says Dr. Cogen.
The Washington Nationals Diabetes Care Complex introduced a higher level of multidisciplinary diabetes care at Children’s, offering a playroom, comfortable waiting room, computers, video games, TVs, state-of-the-art equipment, a gym, educational classrooms, well equipped examination rooms, and a fully functional chef’s kitchen, all of which help make patients and families happy and comfortable.
The diabetes care team incorporates a strong psychosocial component to help patients deal with chronic, lifelong care and to provide support to avoid “burn out.” Their multidisciplinary team includes endocrinologists, diabetes nurse educators, social workers, a psychologist, and a full time dietician, making them one of the biggest diabetes programs in the region. The location at Children’s National also gives patients easy access to several clinics at the same time, making it convenient to see multiple specialists in one day.
Dr. Cogen’s favorite part of working at Children’s is the people. “From the leadership team to the environmental services team, I really enjoy the people. I have a wonderful team that I’ve spent 20 years building and am very proud of it. I love coming to work every day and seeing everyone, it’s like my work family. Of course, the most important people that I enjoy are my patients,” she says.
“In addition to trainee medical education, my primary focus of research is collaborating with psychologists and contributing to quality of life and treatment adherence studies.”
Dr. Cogen is currently working on a study examining how parents cope with the difficulties and barriers of having toddlers with diabetes, as well as a study about how adolescents can successfully transition to adult medicine. In addition, Children’s National was recently chosen as one of 16 sites throughout the country to participate in late 2017 trials regarding the bionic pancreas, another version of the artificial pancreas.
“We try to use the latest technology and treatment modalities to care for our patients. We’re very proud that we’re one of the first institutions to use telemedicine in the region,” she says. But for the Washington Nationals Diabetes Complex multidisciplinary team and Dr. Cogen, “Our mission is to provide the best possible care for patients until there’s a cure. That’s the legacy I’d like to leave at Children’s.” Dr. Cogen hopes the Washington Nationals Diabetes Care Complex will continue to be a showcase for multidisciplinary clinics, which is a new way of thinking about how to manage chronic illness.
"Stronger is giving patients and families the tools, education, and medical care that allows them to go out into the world and know how to care for themselves independently."