On the Road to Drive Out Diabetes
By: Angie Fagerlin, PhD, and Robin Marcus, PhD, PT | Nov 14, 2017 2:00 PM
Angie Fagerlin, PhD
Robin Marcus, PhD, PT
Gail Miller describes her late husband Larry as a man with an iron will who found a way to accomplish everything he wanted. “But when you get an illness like diabetes, you cannot will it away,” Gail says. Larry was a noted Utah philanthropist and businessman who owned the Utah Jazz. In 2009, he died from complications of type 2 diabetes when he was only 64 years old.
Even though an incurable disease, diabetes can be managed in such a way that prevents or delays complications. Gail believes her husband could have lived for another 20 years if he had managed his condition better. She’s determined to support as many people as possible, to help them avoid the deep difficulties of living with diabetes.
The Larry H. and Gail Miller Family Foundation is teaming with University of Utah Health and donating $5.3 million to build a program we’re calling Driving Out Diabetes: A Larry H. Miller Family Wellness Initiative. This initiative will provide education, including prevention information, about the disease as well as deliver screening for people who are vulnerable to developing diabetes. The most common form of diabetes, type 2, can often be prevented if caught early enough.
Getting to People
Our unified battle against diabetes is wide-ranging. It encompasses the entire state of Utah and surrounding regions and includes special effort to reach at-risk populations without access to quality care. Providing medical access to underserved regions is a priority for both the Miller family and U of U Health. Communities with limited medical care are at higher risk for diabetes, because they lack proper screening and prevention services. Driving Out Diabetes will go to people we can help, wherever they are.
Next spring, we’ll announce our plan to travel to underserved communities for diabetes screening and education. We’re also implementing an online diabetes prevention program to reach more people outside the usual “boundaries” of our health care orbit. And we’re going into middle schools and high schools — with the goal of educating young people in their most formative years, when they’re beginning to make decisions about their own nutrition.
The diabetes initiative will include visits to local middle and high schools.
New Models of Care
The Miller Family gift will enable delivery of new clinical care models designed for patients already living with diabetes. We’ll soon roll out a one-day program that will provide individual attention and small-group learning through seminars to fine tune patients’ diabetes management. We have developed two new programs for uncovering disease complications and will screen patients for diabetic retinopathy as well as atherosclerosis in leg arteries.
Research toward a cure for people living with diabetes in Utah and beyond remains a focus of our efforts. To that end, we’re training the next generation of clinicians and researchers. Our Driving Out Diabetes initiative allows investment in transformational research projects. This project engages research faculty, clinicians, staff, and students from the Office of Wellness and Integrative Health, School of Medicine, College of Health, College of Nursing, and the Diabetes and Metabolism Research Center.
Driving out Diabetes is a gift to the people of Utah. Thanks to the generosity of the Miller Family Foundation, our state is now better equipped to fight diabetes. In combination, education and prevention, better clinical care, and new scientific breakthroughs will lead to better treatment and improved lives for everyone touched by this challenging, incurable disease.
Official launch of Driving Out Diabetes at Univerisity Hospital Atrium, Nov. 13, 2017.
Angie Fagerlin, PhD, and Robin Marcus, PhD, PT
Guest blogger Angie Fagerlin, PhD, is Professor and Chair, Department of Population Health Sciences, University of Utah Health. Angie is director of the Miller Family Wellness initiative. Guest blogger Robin Marcus, PhD, PT, is Chief Wellness Officer, Office of Senior Vice President for University of Utah Health, Professor, Department of Physical Therapy and Athletic Training. Robin is team lead on the diabetes prevention and mobile health programs.