ESU Launches New Annual Speaker Series Emphasizing Nursing Enrichment, Endowed For, By Graduates

Posted by: admin on February 27, 2014, No Comments

For three decades, Yvonne Troiani Sweeney, a nurse and an East Stroudsburg University graduate, has been passionate about treating patients with dignity and compassion. On March 13, she will be at ESU to help kick off an annual speaker series in her name that aims to educate and inspire current and future health professionals.

The inaugural speaker will be Dr. H. Branch Coslett, an internationally respected neurologist who is a professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and a research neurologist with the Moss Rehabilitation Hospital.

Coslett will give a lecture entitled “Dementia is More Than Memory Loss: Posterior Cortical Atrophy and Other ‘Focal’ Dementias,” at 5 p.m. at the ESU Innovation Center at 562 Independence Road. The program is free and the public is welcome. A reception will follow.

The Yvonne Troiani Sweeney Endowed Lecture Series for Nursing Enrichment is sponsored by the Niedbala Family Foundation, which is run by Sweeney’s sister, Linda Lee Niedbala of Emmaus, Pa., and her husband, Sam, both ESU graduates.

“This was a way for us to honor my sister’s passion for continuing education, especially for those working in patient care,” said Linda Lee Niedbala ’83. “Yvonne has always been about preserving the dignity and value of the individual. And she showed that to me all my life.”

Three years ago, Sweeney of Mountaintop, Pa., was diagnosed with a form of early onset dementia called posterior cortical atrophy. Coslett, an expert on the disease, was the physician who diagnosed her.

Coslett is the William N. Kelley Professor in Neurology at the University of Pennsylvania. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from Princeton University and a Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

He completed his residency in neurology at the University of Virginia and a fellowship in behavioral neurology at the University of Florida. Coslett’s research is in the area of Behavioral/Cognitive Neurology.

Known internationally for his work in the neurosciences, Coslett has written numerous articles for such medical journals as the Journal of Experimental Psychology, Neurocase and the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society. In addition, he has been an invited speaker at conferences and universities throughout North America and Europe.

Sweeney graduated from ESU in 1978 with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and worked as the head nurse at the Burn Center at what is now Lehigh Valley Health Network.

Linda Lee Niedbala said her sister’s passion for patient care came through in the work she did with burn victims.

“When a child would go home from the burn center with a Jobst bandage  — the burn bandage that would be like a suit– she would have a whole program at the elementary school or high school or middle school in which she would go in and talk to the class and then the child would come out and you could ask questions,” Niedbala said. “She really was educating everybody for the comfort of the patient.”

Sweeney received her Master of Science in Nursing from Villanova University. She served as director of nursing at Franklin Square Hospital Center in Baltimore and later as director of nursing at the Albert Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia. After her sons, Christopher III and Michael were born, she cut back to work part time as a per diem nurse and school nurse.

Sweeney loved ESU and was a big reason why Linda Lee Niedbala chose the university.

“She’s always been a role model for me,” Niedbala said. “I remember late night talks when I was in high school and she would come home from college and I just loved sitting at the kitchen table and drinking coffee and talking to her all night about what was going on.”

Yvonne’s husband Christopher and son Christopher III are expected to join her at the March 13 lecture.

The Niedbalas ran ESU’s comprehensive campaign “Today’s Dream, Tomorrow’s Reality,” that raised more than $20.5 million for the university. Sam Niedbala, Ph.D., is a co-founder of OraSure Technologies and a Lehigh University professor of chemistry and bioengineering. In 2010, the Niedbalas started a medical device company, CryoConcepts LP of Bethlehem.

For more about the Lecture Series, please contact Michelle Keiper at (570) 422-3545.