Beth Israel Medical Center Inaugurates
The Gerald J. Friedman Diabetes Institute
The Beth Israel Medical Center officially opened the Gerald J. Friedman Diabetes Institute with a gala on World Diabetes Day. The event featured expertise from leaders in the medical community such as Leonid Poretsky, MD, Director of Beth Israel’s Diabetes Management Program and Gerald Bernstein, MD, former president of the American Diabetes Association. It also included speeches from other leaders in the medical and political communities such as Mary Bassett, MD, Deputy Commissioner Bureau of Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, NYC and New York City Council Members John Liu of District 20 and Daniel R Garodnick of District 4.
Over half a million New Yorkers are afflicted with diabetes which is the fifth largest cause of death in New York City. Despite this fact a center has never been established to provide adequate care and education to the hundreds of thousands New Yorkers who suffer from diabetes which contributes to cardiovascular disease, retinal damage and renal failure among other disorders and in many cases leads to the development of gangrene in the feet and legs which results in probable amputation.
The Gerald J. Friedman Diabetes Institute will provide people afflicted with diabetes state of the art care, education, research and awareness through different wellness programs and a full time staff of nutritional, educational and clinical experts. The development of the institute was made possible through the philanthropic efforts of the Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman New York Foundation for Medical Research which was established in 1992 to help create institutes and programs that support the study and practice of diabetes and metabolism as well as clinical nutrition, cardiology and endocrinology.
In his opening remarks, Dr. Leonid Poretsky, an expert in the field of diabetes described Dr. Gerald J. Friedman as, “a man of great intellect, energy, vision and compassion who became passionate about the plight of people with diabetes.” Dr. Poretsky then discussed the progress that has been made the last several years in the field of diabetes care and research. He explained, “It’s hard to believe that just about twenty years ago we were treating patients with diabetes in the hospital without knowing their blood sugar levels.” He continued, “It was the work of Dr. Friedman and this institution that allowed us to develop bedside glucose monitoring which became a model for the country and the world.”
Dr. Poretsky described the institute as “a new beginning for diabetes care which focuses on wellness over illness. We’re going to focus on preventive services with a lot of education and we’ll also provide a big outreach program to the communities. And in about six months we will have an interactive educational website where people from anywhere in the world can learn about diabetes. It’s a very different approach than has been used before.”
Despite all the progress that has been made over the past couple of years in diabetes care and research there are still challenges that the diabetic community face, most notably the failure by insurance companies to pay for the costs of educational and preventive services.
David J. Shulkin, President and Chief Executive Officer of Beth Israel Medical Center, explained, “The problem with this institute being a model is that no one wants to pay for this care. We can’t get the managed care companies or the insurance companies to pay for these services.” He adds, “My fear is that unless the payers understand to pay for nutrition and educational support, they’re going to be paying the cost when people are in the hospital for heart surgery and renal failure. This is a crisis in health policy… Patients with diabetes and employers should be demanding from their insurance companies access to education and preventive services.”
The evening culminated with a speech by Katie Couric, anchor and managing editor of the CBS Evening News, who in a short address congratulated the staff of Beth Israel Medical Center for the launching of the Gerald J. Friedman Diabtetes Institute and praised fitness guru High Voltage (aka Kathy Dolgin) who capped the event with a fitness performance. #