The University of Minnesota Physicians Broadway Family Medicine Clinic will soon welcome a diabetes educator whose role will focus on educating patients about the health risks of type one and type two diabetes. This new position has been made possible through a generous gift from Tom and Meredith Olson, two philanthropists with a passion for diabetes care.

Tom Olson's gift-giving to the department goes back a few years ago when he and his wife Meredith made a gift that allowed for the expansion of Mill City Clinic. He had worked with Jon Hallberg, MD, on previous projects, which furthered his relationship with, and interest in, the department.

As a board member for the U of M Physicians, Olson has gotten to know many physicians and various departments across the U of M Medical School. One of the connections he has made is with Kacey Justesen, MD, program director for the North Memorial Family Medicine Residency Program. The Broadway Family Medicine Clinic, affiliated with North Memorial Health, is one of the University of Minnesota Department of Family Medicine and Community Health training sites.

"I had been paying close attention to the Broadway mission over the years, which has always impressed me," Olson said. "I was waiting for an opportunity to help support the clinic."

That opportunity to support Broadway came along when Dr. Justesen mentioned a desire to bring on board a diabetes educator to help provide care to Broadway's patient base, many of whom have type 1 or type 2 diabetes.

Olson became interested in diabetes care and education more than 20 years ago when his sister, Carol, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and then began suffering from kidney failure. After coming to the University to explore the possibility of a kidney transplant and finding no matches, Carol passed away due to complications related to type 1 diabetes. From that time, he and his wife have funded diabetes care in a number of ways.

"I thought, 'This new diabetes educator role is serendipitous; it brings me right back to my roots,'" Olson said.

After some discussions and receiving support and approval from Medical School Dean Jakub Tolar, MD, PhD, Olson and the group established funding to cover the diabetes educator's salary for the next one to two years. The search to fill this role is now underway. In addition to working at Broadway, the educator will also work with patients at M Health Fairview Clinic - Smiley's in Minneapolis.

"This person will work closely with our interdisciplinary team to assist patients with diabetes in the management of their disease," said Dr. Justesen. "Helping with medication, discussing nutrition, evaluating for long-term complications, and education regarding the condition will all be services provided by the diabetes educator. We are looking forward to having these valuable services available at our clinic for our patients!"

Olson also feels excited and optimistic at the prospect of this added role:

"Ultimately, my hope is that the person in this new role will help make a difference in the lives of Broadway patients and further improve the state of diabetes care," he said.