United Physician Group Spotlight: Destiny Lawton, CMA

As a child, Destiny Lawton would accompany her mother to flea markets, where she sold her oils. “I watched how she would get to know people, one-on-one,” Lawton says, “seeing what they liked, what they didn’t like, what they needed, what they didn’t need. Then she would guide them in the right direction.”

That ability to connect with people, to understand their needs, to guide them wisely and well: young Destiny learned it well by her mother’s side, and it has served her career and life’s purpose ever since.

Lawton’s mother also taught her to value education and advancement. “My mother instilled in me the importance of finding a job you can grow with,” she says, “something that will always be there.”

Connecting, helping, learning, and always growing… It led Lawton naturally to a career in healthcare. “I am also a health nut,” she says. “Health has always been a part of me.”

So she majored in chemistry and pre-health at South Carolina State, then went on to graduate cum laude from Miller-Motte College, earning her CNA and CMA, and, for good measure, a certification in medical billing and coding.

She has continued to pursue additional education and training. “I do enjoy school, though sometimes I don’t know why,” she says, laughing. “The bills are high. But I love learning something new, because I know that I can use what I learn to help people.”

Doing Her Part to Ease Patient Pain

At United Physician Group Pain Management of Myrtle Beach, Lawton supports interventional pain management specialist Dr. Elizabeth Snoderly. “I’m Dr. Snoderly’s right-hand woman up front,” Lawton says. But like everyone at the clinic, she takes on many roles, doing whatever it takes to get their patients the best care.

“I work the front desk, serve as the pre-op nurse, do new patient consults, prep patients for their procedures, send clearance letters to cardiologists…” She loves connecting with patients, figuring out what they need, and collaborating with the entire clinic team to relieve their pain. “Patients know I’m here to take care of them,” she says.

It’s all very much a team effort, according to Lawton, with everyone working together to ease patients’ pain. “Dr. Snoderly is a phenomenal doctor who’s known throughout the county and even in other states. Her bedside manner is wonderful. Patients love her. Some bring her back gifts from their travels,” she says. And when a patient calls with an urgent need, a full schedule doesn’t matter. “She’ll ask me, ‘Well Destiny, do you think we can get them in?’”

“We have two other phenomenal providers,” Lawton says, naming Amy Hancock, PA, and Jammie Emerson, NP. “Ms. Hancock is my go-to for any questions I may have about a patient… or my personal life. And Ms. Emerson is so kind-hearted. Like everyone here, she’s a people-pleaser.”

Lawton reports directly to Denise Minks, LPN, the pain management clinic’s clinical coordinator. “I wouldn’t trade her for the world,” Lawton says. “Her heart is so warm. She’s so very caring, and she makes sure she supports us in every way. If something doesn’t seem right, she consults with us, then says, ‘Let me see how I can make it better.’”

The whole team, Lawton says, is united in their commitment to bring patients comfort. “They know that we’re here for them,” she says, “and I love seeing the smiles of relief.” 

“We had one patient call recently,” says Lawton. “She said, ‘Thank you so much for getting me in. I have not had this much relief for eight months. Please tell Dr. Snoderly that she’s phenomenal.’”

Calls like that make all the hard work worth it.

Still Learning, Still Growing

Lawton isn’t sure what’s next in her career. She loves what she’s doing, but she’s still taking every opportunity available to learn and grow. She thinks about moving to a back office job and advancing toward a higher position in healthcare administration. “But if I work in the back, I’m going to lose the connection with my patients and what they need,” she says.

Education and career advancement have never been ends in themselves for Lawton. They always serve her commitment to connecting with people, to helping them. Whatever her next step, she’ll find a way to keep doing that. She’s clear on what’s most important to her. “I like to see their smiles at the end.”


Are you suffering acute or chronic pain? The people of United Physician Group Pain Management want to help. Schedule an appointment today at one of our pain management clinics in Myrtle Beach, Piedmont, or Spartanburg.

Dr. Hamilton on Your Carolina

United Physician Group’s Dr. Matthew K. Hamilton was recently featured on “Your Carolina” to discuss his insights and expertise on pain management. In the interview, Dr. Hamilton describes his interventional pain fellowship at Vanderbilt University, his goal of improving a patient’s overall quality of life through a multi-disciplinary approach, and how each patient is unique and deserving of an individualized approach. Watch his interview to learn more.



Does Diabetes Make COVID-19 More Dangerous? (And What Can I Do About It?)

Note: Please see our post “What Your Doctor Wants You to Know About Coronavirus (COVID-19)” for more information about COVID-19 prevention and symptoms, and for guidance on what you should do if you think you may have the virus.

Risks of Catching COVID-19 vs. Risks of Complications

As far as we currently know, anyone can contract COVID-19 and anyone can have its most severe and life-threatening symptoms. However, some groups of people do seem to be more susceptible, such as older adults and people with compromised immune symptoms. If you or someone you love is diabetic, you may have heard that diabetes puts people at greater risk, and you’re probably wondering what you can do to lower that risk. You might only be wondering does diabetes make COVID-19 more dangerous?

COVID-19 is still a very new virus, and we’re learning more about it every day. However, the best research we have available today suggests that people with diabetes are not more likely to contract COVID-19, but they are more likely to experience the disease’s more serious symptoms and life-threatening complications.

Managing Your Risks

Whether you are diabtetic or not, the most important thing you can do is take proper precautions to avoid exposing yourself to the virus. Disciplined social distancing and quality personal protective equipment can greatly reduce your risk of exposure, but they won’t completely eliminate the possibility that you will catch COVID-19.

Fortunately, a recent preliminary study in the journal Cell Metabolism found that you can lower your risk of severe complications by managing your blood sugar levels well. The study looked at hospitalized patients in China who had type 2 diabetes and a positive test for COVID-19. Those whose blood glucose levels were well controlled during their hospitalization were significantly less likely to develop life-threatening complications. Most strikingly, 11.0% of those with poorly managed blood sugar died while in the hospital, compared to 1.1% of those with well managed blood sugar.

As the authors acknowledge, there are several limitations to this study. It looked only at type 2 diabetes patients, and only at COVID-19 patients who had to be hospitalized. We don’t know how well they managed their blood sugar before or after being hospitalized. We don’t know their long-term health outcomes. And of course, if you are hospitalized, much of the responsibility for managing your blood sugar will be taken on by the hospital.

But we do know that hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) can harm your immune system, making you more susceptible to all kinds of infections. It also increases your risk of heart attacks, stroke, and other serious health problems.

If you contract COVID-19, there’s good reason to believe that carefully monitoring and managing your blood sugar could help save your life. You or the hospital will have to monitor it more frequently than normal, because the disease may put your body under unusual levels of stress. The disease may also put you at greater risk of diabetes complications, such as diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA).

Even if you don’t catch the virus, good blood sugar monitoring is more important than ever for continued good health. Fortunately, there’s a lot you can do to manage your blood sugar well.

What You Can Do

Now is a good time to reassess how you currently manage your blood sugar and take steps to improve. Hopefully, much of the advice below is already part of your practice, but take a good look and examine how you can do better. Also consider asking your doctor for advice, especially if you’re struggling to manage your blood sugar effectively.

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDKD) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the following practices will help you manage your blood sugar and live a healthy life with diabetes:

  • Check your blood sugar levels regularly — with a blood glucose meter or continuous glucose monitor — as directed by your doctor.
  • Take diabetes medications and insulin as prescribed and directed by your doctor.
  • Have your A1C tested regularly to assess your average long-term blood sugar levels.
  • Check your blood pressure regularly and talk with your doctor if it’s high.
  • Have your cholesterol levels tested regularly, and talk with your doctor if your numbers are outside the healthy range.
  • Quit smoking (or don’t ever start).
  • If you are overweight, ask your doctor how you can work safely toward a healthier weight.
  • Eat a healthy diet with lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.
  • Exercise regularly and try to live a more active lifestyle.
  • See your primary care doctor at least twice a year, and more frequently if you’re having trouble managing your diabetes.

Better Health Beyond the Crisis

While we don’t know for certain that managing your blood sugar well will lower your risks with COVID-19, we have good reason to believe that it might. And we know that these practices will help you live a healthier life, now and long after the current health crisis has passed. So whether you do it to protect yourself from COVID-19’s worst complications or to work toward a better long-term quality of life, we hope you’ll consider how you can live well with diabetes.

Call your primary care doctor or any United Physician Group Family Medicine practice if you’d like some help or want more information on does diabetes make COVID-19 more dangerous.