HISTORY of THE CHARLES H. BEST DIABETES CENTRE
Marlene Grass, RN, was a guest speaker at a CDA meeting and spoke about the ban on saccharine; the only artificial sweetener available at the time. After her presentation, Marlene was approached by a number of parents who were desperate for more help and education in the management of their child’s diabetes. As a result, the first parent support group in Durham Region was established.
Marlene’s work in diabetes and experiences with the parents and their children through the support group made her acutely aware of the fact that there was a great need for local dedicated programs to educate and support families dealing with type 1 diabetes.(T1D) This need was further evidenced after attending diabetes conferences and speaking with parents across Canada. At the time the programs available here in Ontario were located in large children’s hospitals in Toronto, London, Ottawa, and Hamilton.
Marlene was the guest speaker at a meeting held in Barrie for parents of children with diabetes where she was once again confronted by parents pleading for assistance to get educational programs specific to their unique needs closer to home that same evening, she became dedicated to setting up a program to educate and support the families with children and youth with type 1 diabetes within Durham Region, hoping that such an accomplishment would be the catalyst to get similar programs throughout the Province. Today there are over 35 programs in Ontario
Funding was sought and committed by a service club. Preparations began to open a centre for children and youth, but not without its challenges. Shortly before the opening, the service club decided, instead, to donate the funding to the local hospital, who used it to set up a part-time hospital-focused program that created public confusion, and left Marlene’s program without financial backing.
The Durham District Health Council supported Marlene and urged her to continue.
A decision to carry on with the planned opening of the centre was made, despite the loss of funding. An application for a registered charity status was sought, and finally attained a few months later.
Centre able to provide tax receipts for donations.
The family of the co-founder of insulin, Charles H. Best, was contacted about the centre being his namesake. Through his son, Dr. Henry Best, the centre received the families’ blessing. The name also stands for “Best Education and Support Team” and is often referred to as "The Best Centre”.
The centre’s founder, Marlene Grass, received the prestigious Frederick G. Banting Award.
The centre was approved for Registered Charity status.
Patient numbers increased regularly, requiring continuous fundraising efforts just to make ends meet.
The Charles H. Best Diabetes Centre opened its doors at 178 Simcoe Street North in Oshawa, Ontario; operating out of the basement of a lovely old home that included a dental office and hair salon.
Initially set up to serve only paediatric patients, the centre took on 20 families in its first year.
Struggle for support from the medical community and the public began.
Whitby Optimist Service club provided funding denied by the Ministry of Health.
The Best Centre outgrew its first location and moved to a larger site at 901 Simcoe Street N, Oshawa.
The Charles H. Best Centre's hummingbird logo was designed and adopted.
Weekly “Bingo” was established as a consistent fundraising activity and continues, today currently held at the Red Barn Bingo Hall located in North Oshawa.
Forged 3 yr corporate partnership with Scotiabank, with support from families from the centre.
Began participating on an annual basis with TrialNet research screening program.
Launched our paediatric insulin pump program.
3-day summer camp experience at Camp Samac in Oshawa was organized and run by The Best Centre staff, with assistance from older teen patients volunteering as counsellors for the younger campers.
The Best Centre was the recipient of a 3-year Trillium Grant to assist in achieving sustainability.
Service club withdrew funding to local hospital diabetes program.
Hospital established a committee to examine the various options for delivery of type 1 diabetes education for children and youth. The committee was unanimous in its decision to transfer hospital patients to The Best Centre, resulting in a rapid increase in caseload from 200 to 325 paediatric families. Hospital provided a contract agreement to provide financial support for transferred families.
Centre's program expanded to include “Young Adults”, addressing the issue of dropout during transition from paediatric to adult programs.
The centre expanded to include adults of all ages.
Identified need to move to a larger facility and hire additional staff.
Savario Montamarano, President of Melody Homes, donated property at 900 Victoria Street W, Whitby.
The first gala fundraising event was held, which continues today.
Insulin pump educator was hired to educate our staff in setting up our pump program.
Planned and developed a research program utilizing PDA (personal digital device) technology under a Canarie Grant, in conjunction with Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario. This was the beginning of our patients being able to fully communicate and send blood glucose results, nutrition data and activities to the clinical team through the internet. While this innovative project received an honorary mention at an international awards ceremony, it was unsustainable due to issues with reliability and financial strain.
Summer camp experience was repeated at Bark Lake, in northern Ontario.
Ministry of Health announced funding for insulin pumps for children and youth up to the age of 18 yrs.
Adult insulin pump coverage was approved by The Ministry of Health.
Corporate sponsorship funded a celebration honouring adult patients diagnosed 25+ years.
Telus raised $115,000 through their annual golf tournament and donated it to The Best Centre. The donation provided financial backing to launch the centre's first Electronic Medical Record.
“Get Pumped”, a 24-hour mountain bike fundraiser was held in support of adult patients requiring, but unable to afford insulin pumps ($10,000+) before pump coverage became available.
The donation of the site occupied from 2000-2010 by Melody Homes allowed for the purchase of the now permanent and historic site at 360 Columbus Road, Whitby (north Brooklin).
An overnight break-in occurred at the centre; new laptops were stolen and the centre was vandalized.
The centre was designated to be the transfer payment site for the newly formed Regional Diabetes Coordination Centre (RDCC) by the Ministry of Health.
Added OTN (Ontario Telemedicine Network) to service offering.
1st annual conference for health professionals focused on management of adults with type 1, which has continued each year with much success.
Initiated our first dragon boat type 1 team, “The Pincushions”, under the leadership of one of our paediatricians, Dr. Paul Meinert, and coaching support from Chris Jarvis, Founder of “I Challenge Diabetes”. This program continues and will hopefully be expanded through other paediatric clinics.
Kela Medical, a local Whitby Corporation, greatly assisted the centre in setting the Electronic Medical Record (EMR), providing a current and cost effective system.
The Outreach & Engagement Committee was established with full support of our Board of Directors.
Our website was redesigned by a valued patient and volunteer of 15+ years. We are most grateful to Kristen Garland for the numerous volunteer hours she has provided to bring the online offering up to the same best-in-class standards as the centre provides.
Expanded our staff by 2 Registered Nurses to meet increased demand for T1D management and support and created a Clinic & Volunteer Coordinator position to assist clinical staff and manage volunteer program.
Launched the Building the Future campaign to raise funds for the building expansion project, which will include three phases and is expected to cost approximately $5 million.