GRAYVILLE - Diane DeStefano was recently named the Rural Health Professional of the Year for the State of Illinois from the Illinois Rural Health Association.
DeStefano, who is a nurse practitioner for Wabash General Hospital, out of the Primary Care office in Grayville, said she was shocked by the award.
She was nominated by Danielle Stevens at the Hospital for her work with patients and in the community.
“They apparently liked her nomination and they gave me the award,” said DeStefano. “We went to a banquet (in Champaign on Aug. 8).”
The award is given to a direct service provider honored for leadership in bringing health services to citizens for rural Illinois. The nominee must be a dentist, dental hygienist, physician assistant, nurse practitioner, certified nurse midwife, RN or allied health provider. The nominations must demonstrate that the nominee provides outstanding care, is involved in the community, and has made a lasting contribution to the rural health care system in Illinois.
DeStefano received her Associates Degree in Nursing from Wabash Valley College. She also attended the University of Southern Indiana and Indiana Wesleyan University to further her education. She worked at Wabash General Hospital for 22 years.
For DeStefano, her patients are the number one important part of her job.
“I approach care as patient-centered,” she said. “We work together to improve their health. I also try to educate as much as I can as far as prevention. But it is all about the patient. It's not about me.”
She said that she doesn't tell people what they have to do. She asks patients to let her know if they have a problem, and they will work together to find what is best for the patient.
DeStefano said that the education aspect of healthcare is one that patients should not take lightly.
“Even my own self, as a patient, you get busy with your everyday life and you may forget how important mammograms or screening for colorectal cancer is. Reminding them what they need to do and why is crucial.”
When it comes down to the job, there are several aspects that DeStefano enjoys most.
“Helping people, as far as preventing strokes and heart attacks and detecting cancer before it is too late,” she said. “Controlling diabetes before people lose their eyesight or kidneys and controlling their blood pressure before they have a stroke.”
Beyond the time with her patients, DeStefano works hard in the community as well.
She is a member of the Grayville Chamber of Commerce, she attends and participates in the Labor Day Parade, Grayville Days, the Easter program.
“In Mount Carmel, I belong to the Free Methodist Church, where I am the youth leader,” said DeStefano. “I have from 25-30 kids every week, sixth grade through high school. I am also the bible quiz coach, and we had four quizzers this past year that went to Nationals.”
DeStefano is also a member of the Mental Health Board of Wabash County.
In Stevens' nomination letter for DeStefano, she said, “Diane is polite, concerned, professional, active listening and the list goes on. I highly respect Diane with my health and concern to take care of me and my family. Her service is not a pushy service or a repair shop like many are in bigger cities.”
DeStefano is currently available for new patients at her Grayville office. She encourages people to see a physician, even if they suffer from white coat syndrome.
“I try not to wear a white coat,” laughed DeStefano. “As nurse practitioners, we listen to you and we work with you. We are here for you. Some haven't had that experience before.”