ThedaCare Provider’s Endocrinology Focus Helps Address Patient Health Concerns
Preventing people from getting sick is what drives Dr. Krista Gonzales. She believes if Western medicine changed its focus from prescribing medicine after disease happens, to preventing disease from happening, people would be healthier. This idea directly ties to ThedaCare’s mission of improving health and well-being, and the system’s dedication to Population Health.
After earning a degree in internal medicine, Dr. Gonzales chose to focus on endocrinology in her fellowship training and followed that with certification in obesity medicine.
“My education path was very purposeful,” she explained. “I have three different perspectives and backgrounds on how to optimize someone’s health.”
She describes herself as a general endocrinologist with a focus on medicine for weight-loss.
“Typically, I see patients for conditions that may be hormone related – diabetes, weight management, osteoporosis and thyroid disease,” she said.
Dr. Gonzales said she chose the ThedaCare team for a reason.
“Preventing illness is my passion, and that aligns well with ThedaCare’s focus on improving population health,” she said. “We want to be proactive in a person’s care, helping predict and prevent diseases before they arise. I also have a passion for providing care to underserved communities, bringing specialized care to people who might not otherwise receive it.”
She added that endocrinology goes hand-in-hand with disease prevention because endocrinology is about finding the root causes of a health issue and then addressing the causes to optimize treatment.
“I treat diabetes, thyroid diseases, osteoporosis and obesity so people can avoid complications such as heart disease, strokes and nerve damage,” she said. “We want to prevent people from having a heart attack or a stroke because once that happens, their day-to-day lives are forever affected. Our goal is to prevent these problems so people can have added years of quality living.”
Dr. Gonzales’ focus on weight management follows the same preventive reasoning.
“Carrying excess weight can significantly impact a person’s joints over the years, and on the heart, lungs and kidney function,” she said. “My training in endocrinology helps me diagnose some of the causes of weight gain, and my training from obesity medicine helps me understand what medications cause weight gain. Both of those backgrounds help me recognize medications we can use to optimize a condition such as diabetes, while at the same time, helping them lose weight to prevent long-term problems.”
In 2022, Dr. Gonzales will begin work with the ThedaCare Bariatrics Team to expand the team-based approach to weight loss. She will evaluate the patient and provide recommended treatments as a part of the comprehensive plan to help patients be successful in their weight loss journey. Her background in obesity medicine helps connect with people seeking weight management assistance.
“Those conversations are unique,” she said. “Patients are more comfortable when they know their doctor understands weight loss is not as simple as calories in versus calories out. Weight loss is complex, and it’s far deeper than that psychologically as well. Having a team of psychologists and psychiatrists at ThedaCare who can work with patients is another great benefit for our communities.”
The ThedaCare Bariatrics Program helps patients make lifelong changes to support their weight management care plan. Some of those resources include: nutritional education and guidance, professional exercise training, emotional support and counseling.
“We want patients to feel supported throughout their journey,” said Dr. Gonzales. “My role can help each person understand how to avoid weight regain and work through any potential issues after surgery. We aim to set them up for success, and feel empowered to live their best life.”
Perhaps the most intriguing part of Dr. Gonzales’ work with ThedaCare patients is that she does it all virtually from her office near Miami, Florida. She explained how she connected with ThedaCare.
“ThedaCare is providing high-quality, virtual medical care to patients using technology like the EKO stethoscope, which allows a doctor to listen to a patient’s heart and breathing through the computer,” she said. “Since ThedaCare also allows me to provide that same high-quality virtual care to patients in rural communities, that fulfilled one of my passions of offering that care to those who otherwise might not have received specialized care.”
New patients come into the clinic for a complete screening. Once the screening is complete, Dr. Gonzales and the patient continue their conversation. At the end of the visit, the nurse will come back and schedule any lab work or other screenings the patient might need and print out any instructions or prescriptions. In the meantime, Dr. Gonzales connects with the patient’s primary care provider through the electronic medical records system to discuss further patient needs. Once that initial or annual patient visit is completed, Dr. Gonzales offers the patient the option of future in-office or at-home virtual visits.
“We can arrange virtual, in-home visits that allows me to connect with any patient who has a smartphone, home computer or tablet with a good internet connection,” she said. “It’s a very convenient way for people to stay connected for continuing care. People don’t have to worry about missing an appointment because of weather or inability to find a ride. It’s also convenient for people who are working, as it can eliminate the need for them to take time off from work and drive 30 or more miles to see a specialist. I think eliminating the inconvenience of having to go into the clinic is an advantage that virtual visits offer.”
Dr. Gonzales also feels virtual visits might be less intimidating for patients. She noted that people often get nervous when they go to the doctor, and virtual options might allow people to feel that they can open up a bit more.
She’s optimistic about the future of virtual care.
“The pandemic essentially catapulted the medical world into using technology to treat people safely,” she said. “The technology – video connections, EKO stethoscopes, etc. – was already there; it just needed to be utilized. Now, we are revolutionizing health care, and I believe that is to everyone’s benefit. Anything that makes it easier for people to get quality care and thereby prevent or lessen the effects of disease, is a step in the right direction.”
For more than 110 years, ThedaCare® has been committed to improving the health of the communities it serves in northeast and central Wisconsin. The organization delivers care to more than 600,000 residents in 18 counties and employs approximately 7,000 health care professionals. ThedaCare has 180 points of care, including seven hospitals. As an organization committed to being a leader in Population Health, team members are dedicated to empowering people to live their best lives through easy access to individualized care, supporting each person’s own health and wellbeing. ThedaCare also partners with communities to understand unique needs, finding solutions together, and encouraging health awareness and action. ThedaCare is the first in Wisconsin to be a Mayo Clinic Care
Network Member, giving specialists the ability to consult with Mayo Clinic experts on a patient’s care. ThedaCare is a not-for-profit health system with a level II trauma center, comprehensive cancer treatment, stroke and cardiac programs, as well as primary care.
For more information, visit thedacare.org or follow ThedaCare on social media. Members of the media should call Cassandra Wallace, Public and Media Relations Consultant at 920.442.0328 or the ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah switchboard at 920.729.3100 and ask for the marketing person on call.