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City asked to support diabetes centre

Officials from the Charles H. Best Diabetes Centre located at 360 Columbus Rd. in Brooklin, have asked the city for $75,000 to support a three-year, $5 million campaign to build a new home.

By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express

A Durham-based diabetes centre has launched an ambitious expansion campaign in anticipation of a significant demand for services over the next decade.

For more than 30 years, the Charles H. Best Diabetes Centre has provided services, support and resources to local residents diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.

But the organization is on the search for a new home, and is hoping to raise $5 million over the next three years.

As part of the campaign, centre officials are appealing to the City of Oshawa for $75,000 in financial support.

During a recent delegation to Oshawa’s finance committee, executive director Lorrie Hagen told councillors they are quickly running low on space at 360 Columbus Rd., just east of Thickson Road, in Brooklin.

The centre operates out of a historic farmhouse at that location.

“We have outgrown it,” Hagen explains.

She said staff are having to use the kitchen and lounge area for office space.

Since 2006, activity at the centre has increased approximately 15 per cent year-over-year.

Hagen expects this growth to continue to increase as more people move into Oshawa and Durham Region.

By 2026, Hagen estimates the centre will need to double its capacity and add 10 staff.

“[This campaign goal] is to ensure we can support the residents of Oshawa, and all municipalities of Durham Region,” Hagen said, adding about a quarter of the 1,800 patients they serve are from Oshawa.

The centre offers care and services to those with Type 1 diabetes, and its team includes nurses, dietitians and mental health professionals.

According to Hagen, the Charles H. Best Diabetes Centre is the only facility that works exclusively with Type 1 diabetes patients.

Hagen said they’d eventually like to expand their reach even further.

“We’d like to be able to share this across Canada, and in order to be able to do this, we do need both the space and expertise,” she said.

Ajax MP Mark Holland has pledged to try to secure $1 million in federal funding for the three-year campaign and Whitby MPP Lorne Coe has been a long-time supporter of the centre.

However, Hagen noted they have not made any formal request for assistance to the provincial government.

On the local level, Whitby council has approved two grants in support of the campaign.

Centre officials have established a task force to lead the campaign efforts.

Members include Terry Johnston of CKDO, local businessman Rick Barnes and Whitby regional councillor Elizabeth Roy.

The Charles H. Best Diabetes Centre was founded by registered nurse Marlene Grass in 1989.

It was originally located at 178 Simcoe St. N. in Oshawa, and moved several times throughout its 30-year history before settling in north Brooklin.

Ward 3 city and regional councillor Bob Chapman asked Hagen if they had approached other municipalities, but Hagen said Oshawa was the first one they’ve made a formal request to.

Ward 1 city councillor Rosemary McConkey praised the work done at the centre, calling their presentation to committee “marvelous.”

Hagen said they have a tentative schedule to have the first phase of building completed by the end of 2022.

Committee members resolved to forward the request to 2021 budget deliberations.