Brand-new device changing lives for children, adults living with Type 1 diabetes A brand-new device is changing lives for children and adults in our area and across the county living with Type 1 diabetes.
PITTSBURGH — Patients with Type 1 diabetes are getting help managing it with a new device.
Families in Pittsburgh have been waiting a long time for the Omnipod 5 and it wasn’t very easy to get at first.
“It’s 100 times better,” said 13-year-old Lucas Wells.
He and his cousin, Carter Wells, live with Type 1 diabetes and now they share using the brand new system that makes managing it much easier.
The Omnipod 5 gets rid of finger pricks and cords and is the first to use a pump and glucose monitor that speak to each other to automatically regulate blood sugar.
“It’s a lot easier to manage your blood sugar,” said Lucas. “Especially when I think back to finger sticking and shots,” added Carter.
Getting insurance to cover it has been tricky for some.
That’s where a partnership between Asti’s South Hills Pharmacy and UPMC Children’s Hospital comes in.
CEO Dan Asti was able to get the Omnipod 5 into his local pharmacy.
“I think most pharmacies don’t know about this,” said Asti. “They’re not readily available, so you kind of have to set up your supply lines appropriately.”
Asti did that, and when UPMC Children’s Hospital Insurance Specialist Theresa Sciulli got wind of it, she called him. She knew the demand for Omnipod 5 was high.
“Once it came out, phone calls were endless,” said Sciulli.
So Sciulli kept a stack of patients’ names and numbers who wanted one. Once she figured out how to get insurance to pay for all of it, she started sending authorizations Asti’s way immediately.
“I’ve had more than two dozen mothers and fathers crying over the phone,” said Asti. “They call it ‘Christmas’ when they receive this.”
Because, as the Wells cousins can attest: “We can live basically a normal life, live like every other kid and enjoy the basic technology that they’ve come out with so far,” said Lucas.
Which is huge for kids just wanting to be kids.
“So I’m not over, missing out, trying to get my blood sugar back up,” said Carter.
The Omnipod 5 constantly monitors and adjusts blood sugar levels. They also can check or set levels themselves using an app on their phones or a separate small controller.
Without the help of Sciulli and Asti, Sciulli says out of pocket without insurance, patients would have paid $700-$800 for the Omnipod 5, with an additional $300-$400 a month for ongoing supplies.
Asti says they’ve almost helped 1,000 people from Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia get the Omnipod 5. He and Sciulli don’t expect the demand to slow anytime soon.
“We’re not done yet,” said Sciulli. “We have kids every day that are diagnosed with Type 1, so this is just the beginning of this journey.”
The hard work, compassion and partnership between one woman and one pharmacy owner that is making it all happen, in our Channel 11 special today at 5.
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