A History of Giving

From the Winter 2017 edition of Vanderbilt Medicine Magazine

Diabetes care at Vanderbilt entered a new era with the opening of the Vanderbilt Eskind Diabetes Clinic in 2005. The clinic offers comprehensive outpatient care for both adults and children with diabetes, including subspecialty visits, nutrition, social work, and allied health services all under one roof.

The clinic is named for the late Irwin B. Eskind, M.D., ‘48, HS ‘51, a retired Nashville physician and philanthropist who died from complications of diabetes. Its establishment is due largely to the generosity of the Eskind family who envisioned a more patient-friendly and integrated model of diabetes care.

As someone with diabetes, Eskind knew how inconvenient it is to have to go to five to six clinics to receive care. At the Vanderbilt Eskind Diabetes Clinic patients can see physicians from several different subspecialties in the same place. The clinic also is designed to provide a “seamless transition” from pediatric to adult care for adolescent patients when they turn 18.

The Children’s Diabetes Program at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital is part of the Vanderbilt Eskind Diabetes Clinic, one of the largest pediatric diabetes centers in the country. The Clinic cares for more than 2,700 children or adolescents with diabetes from Tennessee and nine surrounding states.

For many Vanderbilt University Medical Center patients, expressing gratitude for their health often takes a philanthropic turn, leaving both the patient and the physician feeling fulfilled. Sometimes patients choose to honor their physicians through their wills or other long-term financial planning.

Karen Kendrick-Baker and her husband, Jerry, of Manchester, Tennessee, think so highly of their Vanderbilt physicians that they have included the Medical Center in their estate planning.

“We have no children and have a very small family. When I thought about the thing that most impacts my life, I thought of Vanderbilt and Dr. Jagasia,” she said.

Shubhada Jagasia, M.D., MMHC, professor of Medicine, has been Kendrick-Baker’s physician since 1999 when she first saw her as a resident. Kendrick-Baker has had type 1 diabetes since she was 17. Her husband sees Syeda Zaidi, M.D., assistant professor of Medicine.

“Dr. Jagasia is well educated and credentialed, but I believe you need a person-to-person connection with your doctor, and let’s face it, that’s not always a given,” said Kendrick-Baker. “Dr. Jagasia is compassionate and very earnest. She’s referred me to specialists when needed. Our relationship is trust, upon trust, upon trust.”

Before she committed to the financial gift for diabetes research, Kendrick-Baker was given a tour of the Vanderbilt Diabetes Research and Training Center.

“I already felt good about my decision, but that made me even more sure,” she said. “There’s an incredible amount of work going on there. I went home and told my husband, ‘we’ve done the right thing. We’ve put our assets where they’re going to do the most good.’ It all started with Dr. Jagasia and the trust I have in her.”

Jagasia said she feels “humbled and grateful” by the gift to Vanderbilt made in her honor. “It highlights what a noble profession medicine is, and I’m honored that someone would consider including me in such a personal decision.

“The qualities that make a good doctor are honesty, humility and integrity. It’s important for physicians who treat chronic disease to not only be empathetic, but also objective. It can be a difficult balance for physicians to reach. You should be a peer, coach and friend, but when necessary, be able to step outside of those roles and say ‘as your doctor, this is what I think,’” Jagasia said.

But she emphasized that the care provided in Vanderbilt’s Eskind Diabetes Clinic is a team effort with highly trained subspecialists, nurse practitioners, certified diabetes educators and dietitians playing equally important roles in the care of patients.

Jagasia said she is fortunate to have long-term relationships with her patients because she treats them through all of the phases of their lives. “I often see patients through pregnancy, childbearing, acute illness, personal challenges and through the ups and downs,” she said.