November 16, 2001

Plans for Diabetes Center announced

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Dr. Daryl Granner enjoys one of the presentations at the Diabetes Symposium Wednesday. (photo by Dana Johnson)

Plans for Diabetes Center announced

Graduate student Patrick Fueger, left, talks with symposium speaker Dr. Gerald Shulman in the poster session Wednesday. (photo by Dana Johnson)

Graduate student Patrick Fueger, left, talks with symposium speaker Dr. Gerald Shulman in the poster session Wednesday. (photo by Dana Johnson)

The Vanderbilt Diabetes Center marked more than a quarter century of discovery, training, and patient care on Wednesday with a daylong scientific symposium and the announcement of a bold new initiative—the planned creation of the Vanderbilt Comprehensive Diabetes Care Center.

Dr. Harry R. Jacobson, vice chancellor for Health Affairs, made the announcement at a celebration dinner that included featured speakers Dr. Phillip Gorden, former director of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, Dr. Oscar B. Crawford, professor of Medicine emeritus, and Dr. Daryl K. Granner, director of the Vanderbilt Diabetes Center.

“The clinic would provide expertise and talent in one physical location to treat patients from first diagnosis throughout life, with seamless transition from pediatric to adolescent to adult care,” said Granner, Joe C. Davis Professor of Biomedical Science and professor of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics.

Most diabetes patients see a series of doctors over the course of their disease, often encountering a new philosophy or approach to treatment with each change. The new clinic, as it is planned, would obviate such inconvenience and worry with a broad, multi-disciplinary care program.

“This novel approach would place Vanderbilt among only a handful of centers in the nation that provide extensive, lifelong diabetes care,” Jacobson said.

The mission of the VCDCC, pending its approval by the Board of Trust, would embody a number of wide-ranging goals for providing unparalleled patient care. Each patient would be able to expect an effective treatment regimen for normalization of blood glucose levels, a risk reduction regimen for prevention of diabetes-associated complications, effective treatment for existing diabetes complications, and rapid access to innovative therapeutic discoveries from clinical research.

To accomplish these goals each new patient would have a scheduled visit with a primary physician specializing in diabetes and endocrinology, and at least four return visits each year. The VCDCC would have the capability to accommodate patients with particularly complicated or extensive problems that might require weekly or even daily visits.

For specialized needs, the primary physician would recommend and arrange appointments with the staff of available professionals, including a nutritionist, nurse educator, exercise physiologist, nephrologist, cardiologist, vascular surgeon, ophthalmologist, podiatrist, orthopaedic surgeon, orthotist, clinical psychologist/psychiatrist/child life specialist, neurologist, and obstetrician.

A dedicated phone service would be available seven days a week to ensure continuous and efficient access to the clinic. To further provide for the needs of the patient population and to reduce the need for hospitalization, evening and weekend clinics—along with similarly timed education sessions—would be scheduled.

All VCDCC patients would be potential participants in clinical research studies, including clinical trials for new therapeutic agents. State-of-the-art research facilities would be located within the planned center. The VCDCC would have a hand in establishing an islet cell transplant program in conjunction with the Vanderbilt Transplant Center.

Medical education for a variety of health professionals—from medical students, residents, and fellows, to graduate students and pharmacy students, to nurse practitioner and social work students—would be a high priority for the VCDCC. A library would be available, as well as a conference room fully equipped for presentations by local and visiting scientists, which would also serve as a “fertile watering hole” where faculty and trainees could share in informal discussions and formal clinical case presentations. A Continuing Medical Education program for physicians would be open to community practitioners who attend seminars or who wish to spend several days training at the VCDCC.

Since it is anticipated that the VCDCC could have up to 40,000 patient visits per year, waiting rooms would be carefully designed with the comfort and convenience of patients and their families in mind. Television monitors, modem access for portable computers, computer terminals for delivery of patient information, and a selection of snacks, beverages, and patient education materials would be provided.

About 16 million Americans have diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association, and that number is growing. Vanderbilt’s diabetes clinics currently serve a large geographic region, drawing patients from all over Tennessee and from five neighboring states.

“It is our obligation, responsibility, and our desire to ensure that our patients are as productive and healthy as they can be throughout their lives,” Granner said.