• Article
  • Sep 02 2020

Despite No Derby Party, Barnstable Brown Family Continues Focus on Diabetes

Photo of Barnstable Brown family presenting check

It is Derby week in Kentucky. Yes, you read that correctly and yes, it is September. Like so many other things in our world during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there were some major changes to the Kentucky Derby that usually takes place on the first Saturday in May. For 31 years on the eve of the ‘Run for the Roses,’ the Barnstable Brown Derby-eve gala has taken place. This year – what would have been the 32nd – it was canceled.

Patricia Barnstable Brown sent a statement regarding the tough decision reading in part, “We look forward to an exciting and celebrity-filled Barnstable Brown Kentucky Derby-eve Gala in 2021. It is impossible to have a huge gala of our standards in this global pandemic. Our foremost goal is raising funds for the health and well-being of our community and look forward to breaking our fundraising records in 2021 for the Barnstable Brown Diabetes Center at the University of Kentucky."

UK HealthCare's Barnstable Brown Diabetes Center was established in 2008 by twin sisters Patricia Barnstable Brown and Priscilla Barnstable along with their mother, Wilma. Together, they pledged the initial funding to support the center in memory of Patricia Barnstable Brown’s husband, David, who passed away in 2003 from complications of diabetes.

While the celebrity-packed gala is off this year, the important work at UK HealthCare’s Barnstable Brown Diabetes Center continues thanks to the decades of support. The event centered around the fastest two minutes in sports helped create a center designed for a much longer run – the entire lifespan of each patient – providing care from pediatrics to adults with one coordinated clinical team.

“The Barnstable family has worked tirelessly for decades to raise money to fund diabetes research and enhance clinical care. At UK HealthCare that investment in diabetes research has funded multiple research efforts and culminated in the Barnstable Brown Diabetes Center.  In addition to promising research and scientific studies, the Center includes a multi-disciplinary pediatric and adult clinical center that is unique in Kentucky.  The center provides physician services, diabetes education, pharmacy management, nutrition counseling, diabetes technology training, mental health support, and other clinic-based services,” said Shawn Crouch, administrator at the UK Barnstable Brown Diabetes Center.

In the past 12 years, the gala celebrating a proud Kentucky tradition has raised and donated approximately $16.7 million to combat a disease that disproportionally affects Kentucky. The support was crucial in allowing the staff at Barnstable Brown to continue their important work when COVID-19 hit by allowing them access to the needed technology quickly. It also meant that the center already had a robust staff in place making it easier to meet the challenges of the pandemic.  

“The ongoing support from previous years positioned the center to continue caring for patients throughout the state even during the pandemic.  The center’s team was equipped to provide diabetes care, education, and technology training via TeleCare.  The center was able to continue to provide a full spectrum of services to patients while they were safe at home.  We were able to reach almost all of our patients that were scheduled for appointments via some form of TeleCare during the pandemic. We continue to see a large majority of our patients virtually to meet their care needs,” explained Crouch.

Countless patients have been helped through TeleCare during the past several months because the fact is one’s personal health does not take a time out during times of stress – even a pandemic. One of those patients is Jill Blake who has been living with diabetes for 38 years, “When the pandemic started, I felt very uneasy about the virus and all of the ‘unknowns’ especially for those with chronic illnesses like myself.”

Blake is extremely thankful for the technology in place that allowed her to be in direct contact with her provider and educator as she was upgraded to a new insulin pump just as COVID-19 was changing our world as we knew it. “I knew I needed TeleCare to get the assistance and support of my diabetes team.”

She was able to meet virtually with her educator to set up the new pump and learn how to manage the settings. “By being able to see each other on-screen, we can interact just like we would in person, and she can point to items on her pump demo.”

Making sure each patient does not feel alone in their care has always been and will continue to be a hallmark of the services provided through the Barnstable Brown Diabetes Center. Despite the 2020 gala being canceled, many longtime donors are still giving to ensure this continues. “Every contribution gives the center more ability to fund new approaches in diabetes and obesity research while also supporting excellent clinical care for our patients,” said Crouch.

As the region’s leading provider of diabetes care, the Barnstable Brown Diabetes Center serves as a resource for all providers throughout UK HealthCare and the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Whether it is through referrals, answering questions by phone, or additional education opportunities and programs, the Barnstable Brown team is committed to providing various opportunities for learning and collaboration throughout the year.

In Kentucky and in the U.S., diabetes is one of the leading causes of death and disability. Both types 1 and 2 diabetes are associated with complications that threaten quality of life and are the leading cause of adult blindness, end-stage kidney disease, and non-traumatic lower-extremity amputations. But it doesn’t have to be that way, the Barnstable Brown Diabetes Center - thanks to years of generous support - improves the lives of those impacted by diabetes.