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St. Clair Family Practice Physician Emily Gleason, MD, Believes in the Power of Preventive Care
By Nancy Kennedy

Emily E. Gleason, M.D.Emily E. Gleason, M.D., wants to help you get healthy and keep you healthy, throughout your lifetime. As a physician with St. Clair Family Practice Associates, part of St. Clair Medical Services, she cares for people of all ages, with all types of illnesses and conditions, across the continuum from pediatrics to geriatrics. Dr. Gleason chose to specialize in family practice for multiple reasons: “I like the variety and seeing the whole family. Family practice is an intersection of many specialties – women’s health, pediatrics, internal medicine and much more. It’s challenging because we have to do a lot of reading to keep up with so many fields, but it’s very rewarding.”

Dr. Gleason speaks with conviction and passion about the power of preventive medicine, a major component of family practice. “I have a deep interest in preventive medicine; it’s frustrating to be providing care for diseases that are largely preventable. Diabetes, heart disease, cancer and arthritis are not inevitable; although family history and environment play a role, the choices that we make, like smoking and overeating, and the kind of lifestyle we adopt, have a very significant impact on health and longevity. In the U.S., our healthcare system emphasizes the treatment of disease over the prevention of disease – it’s a reactionary approach. Doctors don’t learn much about preventive care in medical school, and we don’t teach it to our patients nearly enough.”

In her practice, Dr. Gleason offers preventive care in the form of nutrition counseling, age-appropriate health screenings, patient education, regular physical exams, stress management and immunizations. She stresses the need for getting the flu shot every year, and reminds people that it is not too late to get one in January or even later. “The flu season peaks from December to February and lasts until May. It’s never too late. People don’t take the flu seriously enough; it’s a respiratory virus and unless you are young and healthy, it can be deadly. Older people, infants, pregnant women, and people with compromised immunity are vulnerable and we all need to get flu shots to protect them as well as ourselves. The flu itself isn’t necessarily deadly but the complications of flu, like pneumonia, can be.”

Dr. Gleason sees many patients who are pre-diabetic, she says, and often refers them to a nutritionist for expert help. “I try to learn what their daily routine is, and work with them to identify what they can modify, realistically. Little changes can have a big impact. At times, I do recommend bariatric surgery.

“Losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight is tough, and our food environment is unhealthy: there is too much processed food, fast food, and enormous portions sizes. It’s hard for people to actually know what normal eating looks like, when all you see are huge portions of high fat, high salt, high calorie food. I find that people know very little about nutrition, and it’s so important.

Healthy eating is even a problem for children; in many schools, the lunches that are provided have few healthy options. Obesity starts at a young age now, so we have to start teaching healthy eating in the elementary schools. I’d like to see the school systems offer more nutrition education and focus more on weight management.”

Dr. Gleason believes that a comprehensive approach to weight management is best. “Have a team: your PCP, maybe a trainer, the nutritionist – so that you are seeing the big picture and not viewing weight management as just a diet. St. Clair Hospital’s Diabetes Center is excellent and has nutritionists who will see any patient. They will work with you and your lifestyle.”

Following in the footsteps of her father, Wayne A. Evron, M.D., St. Clair Hospital endocrinologist, Dr. Gleason decided to become a physician – as did her brother, Josh - and attended medical school at Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University. Dr. Gleason joined St. Clair Family Practice in September 2019, following completion of a residency at UPMC St. Margaret. She is married and lives in the South Hills with her husband Colin and daughter Reese, 1 ½. “Although I went to school in Philly, I always planned to come home to Pittsburgh to practice. My husband is also from here. I volunteered at St. Clair as a teenager, and the Hospital was my first choice. I’m happy to be here, caring for the people of my own community.”

It’s Not Too Late to Get Your Flu Shot!

The flu can kill you, or make you very sick, but you can dramatically reduce your chances of getting it by simply getting the flu vaccine. And it’s never too late to get it: the flu season can last until May.

Every year, approximately 36,000 people die from the flu, and over 200,000 are hospitalized, according to the Centers for Disease Control. It’s a common disease, but it’s one to take seriously. Infection with the flu virus can give you a fever, severe cough, congestion, headache, sore throat and generalized body aching. The flu is highly contagious and can result in complications such as pneumonia, dehydration and bacterial infections; it is especially dangerous for infants and young children, pregnant women, the elderly, people with weakened immune systems due to illness or immunosuppressive medication, and people with existing conditions such as diabetes or heart disease.

Everyone should get the flu vaccine, beginning at six months of age. The vaccine is safe and has few side effects; the most common is a sore arm. It’s widely available at physician offices, clinics, senior centers, and pharmacies.

Despite the safety and effectiveness of flu vaccine, many people misunderstand it and are afraid it will make them sick or even give them the flu. “There’s a lot of fear associated with the flu vaccine,” says Emily Gleason, MD, a family practice physician with St. Clair Family Practice Associates. “It isn’t possible for the flu vaccine to give you the flu; it’s made from inactivated virus and it triggers your immune system to make antibodies against the flu, in case you are exposed to it. If you don’t believe that you need a flu shot for yourself, then get one for the people you love. Getting the flu vaccine is something you do for others, for your family and your community.”

Get your flu shot!

To contact Dr. Emily Gleason, call (412) 942-8570.

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