If you didn't get a chance to read the most emailed story by the New York Times today, Diabetes and Its Awful Toll Quietly Emerge as a Crisis, you have a week to do so before it is archived. Unfortunately, none of the patient stories will come as a surprise, especially to nurses and health care workers who work in public health or on a medical-surgical floor in your local hospital. The Times reporter articulated the complications of diabetes well including the clients with kidney transplants, amputations, cardiac disease, and of course stroke. Half of the hospital beds were filled with patients, all who had diabetes in addition to their primary health problem.
An estimated 800,000 New Yorkers suffer from diabetes, a snippet of what is occurring nationally.
"Already, diabetes has swept through families, entire neighborhoods in the Bronx and broad slices of Brooklyn, where it is such a fact of life that people describe it casually, almost comfortably, as "getting the sugar" or having "the sweet blood."
But as alarmed as health officials are about the present, they worry more about what is to come.
Within a generation or so, doctors fear, a huge wave of new cases could overwhelm the public health system and engulf growing numbers of the young, creating a city where hospitals are swamped by the disease's handiwork, schools scramble for resources as they accommodate diabetic children, and the work force abounds with the blind and the halt."
The Times article points out the high cost of treating Type 2 diabetes, a disease that is preventable and can be postponed. These included the expense and hardship of caring for family members, higher taxes, increased public spending to divert the disease, but add on to that time lost from work, and higher insurance premiums and you can see how this condition will affect all of our pocketbooks.
The commissioner of the NY City Department of Health states "Getting millions of people to change their behaviors (to prevent Type 2 diabetes) will require some kind of national crusade."
We believe that by creating an Office of the National Nurse we will be taking the first step to do just that. The nation desperately needs accurate, accessible education on how to prevent Type 2 diabetes, including in our youth, whom we are beginning to see afflicted in increasing numbers. The National Nurse and a diabetes specialist, working with the Surgeon General, the CDC, the HHS Secretary and the American Diabetes Association, would be responsible for a broadcast message that would include basic information about the disease, the risk factors, and specific diet and exercise recommendations.
Education is very different from simply saying there is a problem. We know Type 2 Diabetes exists in epidemic proportions, now is the time for every nurse in the country to stand up and do something about it. Through the Office, 3 million nurses could sign up to volunteer on a National Nurse Community Team to deliver an educational program to the public-these programs would run simultaneously and occur on the same day nationwide.
Do you want to continue with status quo, or do you want to be part of a solution to our country's healthcare dilemna? We welcome your comments and ideas.
The National Nursing Network Organization Team—Monday, January 09, 2006