• Rheumatologist Dr. Michael Abel will serve HCM as the group’s only rheumatologist. He treats arthritis and auto-immune conditions. From left are Dr. Abel, patient Lindsey Bertrand and Kimberly Brasher, LVN.
  • Dr. Eileen Van Diest, right, HCM endocrinologist, specializes in diabetes, metabolic diseases and hormone health. She and medical assistant Monica Ramirez, left, will start seeing patients on Monday, Aug. 13. — Standard-Radio Post/McKenzie Moellering

HCM welcomes specialists to town

Endocrinology, Rheumatology care now closer than ever

Two new doctors will begin seeing patients through Hill Country Memorial Medical Group.

Dr. Eileen Van Diest, will be Fredericksburg’s only endocrinologist, and Dr. Michael Abel is a rheumatologist. Both will begin accepting patients on Monday, Aug. 13.

 

Filling a need

Due to a lack of endocrinologists and rheumatologists in Fredericksburg, Hill Country Memorial worked for over a year to find doctors like Van Diest and Abel.

“The arrival of these physicians answers a clear need for specialized care in these two fields,” Jayne Pope, HCM CEO said. “Their arrival brings expert specialty care much closer to home for our community.”

Both Pope and Chief Operating Officer Clint Kotel agree that the community will benefit from the care the two physicians provide.

“We have worked to recruit and select the best physicians for the community and the organization,” Kotel said. “Dr. Abel and Dr. Van Diest each bring an additional level of expertise and a highly personal approach to their respective fields, and we are excited to welcome them to the team.”

 

Endocrinology care

Coming from a family of medical professionals, Dr. Eileen Van Diest initially wanted to become an English professor.

“I really don’t recall how the switch to medicine was made but after my undergrad, I took a year off and worked in the emergency room in Abilene,” she said. “Through that, I really learned a lot being at the bottom of the totem pole.” 

During her third year of medical school, Van Diest was assigned to an endocrinologist.

“He was typically a very dry person but this one day he just got really excited when we saw a patient with Addison’s Disease, and I think in that moment, I knew I wanted to go in this field,” she said.

Van Diest eventually found her passion and has since grown to love every aspect of endocrinology.

“You see sort of these Lazarus cases like adrenal diseases and you literally bring people back to life,” she said.

With the growing number of diabetics, Van Diest focuses much of her practice on this area.

“Making changes in a lifestyle of a diabetic can be tough but I make it a goal to negotiate with them rather than letting this disease control their life,” she said. “My favorite part is telling patients that it isn’t true — it won’t control your life.”

Using technology like continuous glucose monitoring systems excites Van Diest, as it gives her patients more options for a better quality of life.

“The technology we have, as far as improving quality of life, is amazing,” she said. “People aren’t having to check their blood sugar a million times a day and we can better monitor changes in a patient’s daily life.”

Van Diest is confident that she can fill a significant need in the community that will ultimately benefit all aspects of medical practice.

“Diabetes is a big burden because there have been so many recent advances and it affects so many systems, making it hard for a general practice doctor to keep up. But an endocrinologist can really contribute to the team aspect of medicine,” she said.

 

Rheumatology

After spending 29 years in the military, Dr. Michael Abel is ready to adjust to civilian life and practice science in a practical way.

“I have always enjoyed science and wanted to do something very practical and rheumatology is just that,” he said.

Abel found his knack after treating patients with rheumatoid arthritis and Lupus, two of the most common diseases in the field.

He also serves patients with chronic joint pain, connective tissue disorders and Raynaud’s, all of which are not procedure-based.

“What makes this area unique is we still practice it the old-fashioned way, especially in how we diagnose it,” he said. “It is a lot of cognitive work, much like a detective.”

Over the last 10 years, Abel said the field has gone away from prescribing anti-inflammatories and seeing no results to having a 75 percent rate of improving or completely eliminating the disease.

Abel is glad to provide care in Fredericksburg and also looks forward to serving the senior demographic.

“I am eager to provide this care here so people don’t have to travel to Austin or San Antonio, as sometimes there is a four-month wait list,” he said. “If I can come here and provide quality and timely care, that will be an accomplishment.”

 

Appointments

To schedule an appointment with Van Diest or Abel, call 830-990-1404 or visit hillcountrymemorial.org.

 

Dr. Eileen Van Diest

•  Established: Aug. 13, 2018

•  Address:  205 West Windcrest (Perry Feller Building, Ste. 130)

•  Phone: 844-243-9829 or 830-990-1404

•  Website: hillcountrymemorial.org/doctor/view/Eileen-van-diest

•  Primary specialty: Endocrinology care focusing on diabetes, metabolic diseases and hormone health.

 

Dr. Michael Abel

•  Established: Aug. 13, 2018

•  Address:  1308 Texas 16 South (Fredericksburg Clinic)

•  Phone: 844-243-9829 or 830-990-1404

•  Website: hillcountrymemorial.org/doctor/view/Michael-abel-md

•  Primary specialty: Rheumatology care, including arthritis and autoimmune diseases.

Fredericksburg Standard

P.O. Box 1639
Fredericksburg, TX 78624-4228
830-997-2155