'An Economic Tsunami: The Rising Tide of Diabetes'


'An Economic Tsunami: The Rising Tide of Diabetes' is the subject of this year's annual Fairfield University School of Nursing Lecture taking place Monday, Oct. 29 at 8 p.m. Delivered by Geralyn Radowiecki Spollett '76, MSN, ANP, CDE, a foremost expert in the field of diabetes and the associate director of the Yale Diabetes Center, Yale University School of Medicine, the talk will zero in on why the disease continues to be diagnosed at an increasingly alarming rate in the United States, especially among children.

The Centers for Disease Control estimate that the number of people with diabetes, evidenced by the body's inability to produce or properly use insulin, may double within the next ten years to 40 million, setting the stage for a possible financial healthcare catastrophe. Newsweek magazine recently called diabetes an epidemic.

A resident of Fairfield and a 1976 graduate of the Fairfield University School of Nursing, Spollett spends her days at Yale doing clinical work, research, and education, and developing programs for African-American, Hispanic, and Native American persons with diabetes. She said obesity is partly to blame for so many diabetes diagnoses. "Obesity caused by lack of exercise and increased consumption of high caloric foods places persons with a family history at risk for developing diabetes. Preventive healthcare and access to healthcare for those at highest risk, particularly Hispanic, African-American and Native Americans, has not kept pace with the burgeoning needs of these populations. Diabetes is an expensive disease. The high cost of medications and glucose testing equipment as well as the need for multiple specialties to be involved in care - eye, kidney and nerve evaluations - increase healthcare and insurance costs."

The lecture will take place at the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts. The event is free and open to the public, but tickets are required. Please call the Quick Center box office at 254-4000, ext. 4010.

Also at the event, Nancy P. Lynch, a Greenwich resident and chair of the School of Nursing Advisory Board, will be honored with the James Daly School of Nursing Award. The award is named after James Daly, former University trustee, who has been key in shaping the future direction of the School of Nursing.

The lecture will be followed by a discussion moderated by Doris Troth Lippman, Ed. D., professor of the School of Nursing, that will center on how our healthcare system can deal with the financial burden of more and more young people fighting this debilitating and chronic disease.

Jeanne M. Novotny, Ph. D., RN, FAAN, dean of the School of Nursing, said, "This year’s lecture is a response to the critical issue of diabetes being diagnosed in people among all age groups and socio-economic levels. The evening provides all of us with an opportunity to understand the complex nature of the challenges associated with the disease and the related economic implications."

Spollett has lectured nationally and internationally on diabetes management from her vantage point as a nurse practitioner. She establishes long-term relationships with her patients, helping them cope with diabetes through self-management education regarding their medication, stress, diet, and exercise levels. "Diabetes care must be holistic, involving physical, emotional and spiritual care. Nurses are uniquely prepared to address these needs. Since nursing encompasses the rudiments of patient education, nurses are able to provide counsel and coaching in these critical areas."

Spollett's path to nursing started at Fairfield. She was in just the third class of women at Fairfield. After graduating with a bachelor of science degree in nursing, Spollett went on to earn an master of science degree in nursing, with distinction, from Boston College, returning to Fairfield from 1986-1991 as an adjunct professor in the School of Nursing. At Fairfield University, she was honored with the 1996 School of Nursing Alumni Excellence in Nursing Award. In 2005, she received the Fairfield University Alumni Professional Achievement Award. Last year, Spollett received the American Diabetes Association's 2006 Educator of the Year Award.

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726, mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu

Posted on September 20, 2007

Vol. 40, No. 41