By Courtney Cina
Juggling classes and life’s responsibilities is difficult for most Youngstown State University students. For Haley Drennen, a freshman biology major, living with diabetes especially complicates her life.
“The insulin cost has gone up over 300 percent in the last 10 years. It’s also very hard to apply for assistance as a college student if you are not on your parents’ insurance,” Drennen said.
The process to receive insulin is to either pick it up at a pharmacy or have it shipped to a person’s residence.
Because of the nature of the medication, insulin has to be refrigerated. Drennen cannot have it shipped to campus because of the difficulties of keeping it cold.
“I have it mailed to my house and it is left in a refrigerated package. My parents [wait for] the package due to the seriousness of my medication,” Drennen said.
Drennen said patients can spend up to $45,000 a year on medication and equipment.
“Every day, the role of insulin is very important although there are some that can’t afford it. It becomes life or death for patients on this medication,” Cynthia Johnson, a pharmacist at Walmart in Boardman, said.
As a healthcare professional, Johnson regularly witnesses the conflict and says she only wishes that health care providers would offer some type of financial assistance to diabetic patients.
Despite the complications resulting from juggling classes and monitoring everything required for her health, Drennen believes it’s important to be involved in community outreach regarding diabetes.
To raise awareness of this drug becoming so expensive, Drennen established a chapter of the College Diabetes Network on campus.
The College Diabetes Network supports a community of students, peers and staff to provide understanding of diabetes.
Drennen speaks about health care reform and continues to educate and help those who need it through CDN.
Joseph Mistovich, professor and chair of the health professions department, is the advisor for the YSU CDN chapter and welcomes Drennen’s help to inform his emergency medical services students about diabetic emergencies.
“In class, Drennen would come in and educate my students on diabetes and diabetic emergencies and what happens while responding to this situation,” Mistovich said.
He said the information that students obtain from Drennen is vital knowledge on how to address life-threatening situations when a diabetic’s blood sugar is either too low or too high.
Mistovich is very passionate about delivering emergency services to those who are diabetic, and he said it’s one of the more serious situations EMTs encounter.
CDN is a chapter that promotes awareness of diabetes, helps others through the hardships of this disease and creates an advocacy for the chapter and diabetes.
If you are a student on campus who cannot afford to fill their insulin, go to http://beyondtype1.org/get-insulin/ This is a project that help students get the supplies and discounts they need for their specific situation.
To get involved or more information, contact Haley Drennen at [email protected]