Contact: Lori Willis

Director of Communications


Aug 9, 2004

Two Schnucks Pharmacies Receive American Diabetes Association Certification

Schnucks Pharmacies at the Loughborough and Florissant stores recently earned certification from the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and are now approved providers of diabetes education.

According to Schnucks Director of Pharmacy Curtis Hartin, R. Ph., Schnucks is one of few non-medical facilities to pass the rigorous certification requirements in the ADA's nationally recognized Diabetes Education Program. Hartin says, "The process involved conducting test clinics at the Loughborough and Florissant pharmacies. Studies showed a greater incidence of diabetes and, therefore, a greater need for education in those two communities." However, Hartin says the certification will benefit customers of all Schnucks pharmacies.

The Schnucks Comprehensive Diabetes Education Program (SCDEP) was designed and conducted by a team of Schnucks pharmacists who counseled and monitored the progress of approximately 40 Schnucks associates and a handful of community volunteers, all diabetic adults. Schnuck Pharmacists Bruce Aker, Loughborough; Bonnie Kitowski, Woods Mill; Ken Simpson, Hampton Village; Nicole Petersen, Florissant and Andy Gerwitz, Harvester, were pleased with the results.

According to Gerwitz, in addition to personal consultations in pharmacy, classes were held in store conference rooms. "More than 60 percent of those surveyed showed significant improvements in blood glucose and blood pressure; they lost weight and reported improvements in the overall quality of life," Gerwitz said. "The resulting certification demonstrates to patients, physicians and third party insurance carriers that the diabetes education provided at Schnucks meets very high standards and is of a quality that can help save lives."

ADA statistics show that 18.2 million people in the U.S. have diabetes. Of that number, 13 million have been diagnosed and 5.2 million are unaware they have the disease. Edward Clay, area executive director of the St. Louis ADA, said, "Diabetes is nearly epidemic, and it's growing. Diabetics need good, solid information from more resources in order to make good day-to-day choices. The news of the Schnucks certification is exciting because, unlike other providers, Schnucks pharmacists are right there on the front lines, and they see how people are impacted by this disease. I think Schnucks' certification is a giant step toward battling diabetes in the communities they serve."

Gerwitz has been a pharmacist for the past 27 years and became a certified diabetes educator eight years ago. "Typically, people would not expect Schnucks to provide this service, but the pharmacy business is changing," said Gerwitz. "In addition to dispensing prescriptions, pharmacists are becoming more involved in patient care; it's a natural extension of what a community pharmacy and pharmacists can do."

Schnuck Pharmacist Nicole Petersen, also on faculty at the St. Louis College of Pharmacy, explained, "I already have one physician who is referring patients. Our common goal is to help diabetes sufferers maintain their health so that they can be here for their children and grandchildren."

Over the past year, Petersen says the team has conducted both one-on-one and group sessions. "Depending upon the patient, glucose meter training can take 20-40 minutes while more comprehensive education is delivered in two-hour sessions up to 10 hours," she said.

There is a cost associated with the education program, but calling upon a number of resources, Schnuck pharmacists will work with each patient to personally and confidentially plan a program they can live with. "Diabetics who are taking insulin are being trusted with injecting a powerful hormone into their bodies, and overdoses can be life threatening," said Gerwitz. "Most major insurance companies value the preventative care enough to cover the cost of the training as well as the equipment and materials."

Community members interested in learning more about the new program can call Schnucks and speak to Nancy Thoene at 314-994-4039 or drop by the nearest Schnucks Pharmacy. Classes will be held in conference rooms of select Schnucks stores, and Hartin says space is limited. "We are currently enrolling patients who walk-in or who are referred by physicians, and as soon as the certification process is finalized, we will be able to start classes."

Hartin says early detection is the best way to avoid complications. It's important that you see your doctor if you have never been tested for diabetes or if you suffer from any of the symptoms including frequent urination, excessive thirst, extreme hunger, unusual weight loss, increased fatigue, irritability and blurry vision. Although no group is immune, the disease is most common in African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

Founded in St. Louis in 1939, Schnuck Markets, Inc. currently operates 101 stores (including five Logli stores) and 94 pharmacies in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Tennessee and Mississippi. The family-owned company is ranked 80th in the Forbes magazine listing of the nation's "Largest Private Companies."

# # #