In the 1990s, Mountaintop resident Donna Yuscavage RN was working as a Certified Diabetes Educator in home health when she became burned out after caring for people with diabetes who had terrible complications.
“The worst year was when I cared for three people who were in their 20’s,” explains Donna. “All were nearly blind. One lost part of a foot, one lost an entire foot and the 3rd, a young man lost his leg to diabetes complications. After meeting the young man’s home health needs and teaching him how to care for his stump, he was discharged. A week later, he killed himself. These events were tragic in their own right but what made them worse is that clinical trial results, published in 1993, showed that keeping blood sugar levels close to normal slows the onset of eye, kidney and nerve damage,”
Donna adds she immediately thought, “Dear God, this could have been prevented.” She determined that from there on out her main focus would not be to treat complications but to help patients prevent them.
Donna asked the owners of Triangle Pharmacy (her husband John and brother-in-law Joe) if they would allow her to start a diabetes education program at the pharmacy. No, Donna told them, it had never been done in a drug store in Pennsylvania, but she was confident it would be a valuable asset to the pharmacy and customers with diabetes. It would also provide excellent access to newly diagnosed patients. They agreed.
In 2004, Debbie Kobela of Mountaintop was hired as office manager with Ruth Wimsatt-Jones, MS, RE, LDN, of Drums, who is an experienced diabetes nutritionist. They started the first pharmacy run diabetes program in Pennsylvania to be recognized by the American Diabetes Association and were awarded the ELAN Innovative Award by the Pennsylvania Pharmacy Association.
The program has since thrived and provides services for people with diabetes and for the health care professionals that care for them. Ruth and Donna give talks to local citizen groups about diabetes and diabetes prevention and help train home health aides on insulin. They give school presentations to teachers on how to care for the child who has diabetes. They were instrumental in starting a weekend camp for kids with diabetes and their families. Donna also established the Diabetes Support Group of Mountaintop that meets once a month, March through October, at St. Jude School.
Donna wishes to remind people with diabetes and health care professionals who care for them about the individual and class diabetes services at Triangle. Knowing that education is the cornerstone
See Diabetes page 4