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Highlands Hospital offers off-site Diabetes Center

Nancy Henry | for the Daily Courier
The Diabetes Center of Highlands Hospital, 1064 Morrell Ave., Connellsville, is staffed by Jeanne Kuhns (far left), clinic assistant; Heidi McClain, RD, LDN, CDE (second from left); Director Bridgette Lowry, RN, BSN, CDE (right); and Patty Groh, clinic assistant. Patty Leyschock, Med, RD, LDN, CDE, is also a member of the staff.

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The Diabetes Center of Highlands Hospital, an American Diabetes Association-approved program and member of the Pittsburgh Regional Initiative for Diabetes Education, may be the only one of its kind in Fayette County.

There are three educators and two clinic assistants who are serving the needs of the clients through diabetes education.

Bridgette Lowry, RN, BSN, CDE, is director of the Diabetes Center.

“We work with the primary care physicians to come up with a plan to assist the patient in controlling their diabetes. We have seen positive improvements in our patients, progress is tracked,” Lowry said.

Heidi McClain, RD, LDN, CDE, and Patty Leyschock, Med, RD, LDN, CDE, are educators who work closely with patients to teach them what to do now to deal with this lifelong disease so they don't develop complications.

“We have a friendly staff — three educators and two clinic assistants — at a convenient location in Village Plaza right on Route 119, so it is a straight drive south or north,” Lowry said. “Residents do not have to be from Fayette County to come to our center. A physician referral is needed, but we can help get that if anyone needs us to.”

The initial visit to the center is one-on-one with the diabetes educator.

All patients at the Diabetes Center are treated according to their own specific needs, through a comprehensive assessment. The patient is then referred to group classes held at the center, if appropriate.

All patients are encouraged to bring a support person to sessions. Eight classes a month are offered at convenient times to fit anyone's schedule. There is an evening class that is good for those who work traditional hours and there are daytime classes for those who don't want to drive at night.

“We try to accommodate everyone's schedule,” Lowry said.

The Highlands Hospital Diabetes Center offers a full range of services that include one-on-one education, medical nutritional therapy, diabetes self-management education and pump management. Additionally this center can help pregnant women who develop gestational diabetes; they do not have to go to Pittsburgh or Morgantown.

“Gestational diabetes is on the rise. It is diagnosed between the 24th and 28th weeks of pregnancy. Yes it is a problem in pregnancy, but it is a problem that can be handled by controlling blood sugars,” Lowry said. “We have the mother-to-be come in to the clinic for counseling on diet and monitoring and other things. We want local residents to know that this is available.”

Medical Nutrition Therapy is provided by a registered dietician and is an integral part of treatment. Self-management of diabetes is addressed in specific ways.

“Our mission is to empower our clients with the self-care skills necessary to improve their quality of life, using what they have learned through diabetes education and disease management strategies here at the Highlands Hospital Diabetes Center,” Lowry said.

The center is located at 1064 Morrell Ave, Connellsville. Phone 724-628-8008 for more information.

Nancy Henry is a contributing writer.

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