Philanthropy Helps Patients with Diabetes Thrive for a Lifetime

Troubled by the growing number of young people at UPMC Children’s struggling with diabetes management, physicians Amy Nevin, MD, Ingrid Libman, MD, PhD, and Justin Schreiber, DO, MPH, with the support of Radhika Muzumdar, MD, and Kenneth Nash, MD, came together to create the Diabetes Wraparound Program (DWP). Based on a high-fidelity model that has proven successful in the behavioral health field, DWP “wraps” families with guidance and support to help youth with type 1 diabetes (T1D) better manage their disease.

With catalytic funding from Diane and Cliff Rowe and contributing funds from many generous donors, DWP launched as a pilot initiative in 2019. Utilizing a structured, individualized approach to care that draws upon a child-centered team with experience either living with or raising a child with T1D, DWP has attained positive outcomes for participating families.

Following a successful two-year pilot period, the DWP team has sustained a streamlined iteration of the program that continues to attain promising results.

Inspired by the remarkable success of the initiative to date, UPMC Health Plan recently announced funding in support of DWP. The generous funding from the Health Plan will contribute to ongoing DWP program sustainability within the Division of Pediatric Endocrinology and Diabetes at UPMC Children’s for the next five years.

Improving Health Outcomes

DWP has enrolled 69 kids since inception — all of whom presented with significant challenges in their diabetes care and many with social and emotional concerns.

During and after participation in DWP, participants’ hospital admissions and emergency department visits were reduced in comparison to the 12 months before program participation. Throughout the pilot phase, a majority of DWP participants demonstrated improvement or no deterioration in HbA1c (a measure of blood sugar levels) — a major accomplishment for teens who usually struggle with uncontrolled blood sugars.

Families participating in the program further indicated overall satisfaction with the initiative, with many noting how helpful it was to engage with others also coping with T1D. Participants reported improved familial relationships, decreased family conflict, increased food security, and improved communication with clinicians as a result of the program.

According to one DWP mom, “This was the first program where I felt like the staff understood…It made it easier to address issues and concerns.”

Sustaining an Important Initiative

Donors who invested in DWP effectively helped to establish proof of concept for an impactful, holistic program. The funding recently committed by UPMC Health Plan will allow DWP to continue to reach the youth most at risk for adverse diabetes outcomes. This important initiative would not be where it is today without the vital partnership of our community of supporters.

Our thanks to the many UPMC Children’s donors who contribute to the health and well-being of kids and families — exemplifying effective philanthropy in action! The Diabetes Wraparound Program illustrates how philanthropy can spark new ideas to achieve the healthy future that every child deserves.