Diabetes Education Centre Celebrates 40 Years



  • A clinical research unit and a diabetes education centre are proposed by endocrinologist Dr. Wilson Rodger shortly after beginning his career at St. Joseph's


  • Diabetes lectures for inpatients began by Fran O'Brien, RN.


  • After five years of planning by endocrinologists Dr. Wilson Rodger and Dr. Gerald Tevaarwerk, a dream becomes a reality. "St. Joseph's Hospital Diabetes Education Centre" opens in October 1973 on the second floor of the hospital near the Hession Lecture Room. At this time, Sister Mary Doyle is the hospital's Executive Director
  • The centre is supported by private donations with optimism about future government funding. Funding is provided by: the Hon. and Mrs. Ray Lawson; local branch of the Canadian Diabetes ASsociation; and Associated Physicians Services
  • The first medical directors are Dr. Rodger and Dr. Tevaarwerk, and the coordinator is nurse educator Dorothy Gibson, a pioneer in her own right. Dorothy was the first person with insulin-dependent diabetes to be accepted into nursing. Dorothy's motto was "The diabetic that knows the most, lives the longest."
  • In the first year there are more than 400 patient visits. In the second year 941 patients participate in classes and individual instruction for a total of 1,312 visits. Classes are held Monday through Thursday 7:45 to 3:30 pm - alternate days for type 1 diabetes and a 2-day program for type 2). Part of the type 1 program includes a 15- minute exercise break run by a physiotherapist.
  • While at the centre, patients receive meals at cost with a dietitian in attendance to offer guidance in selection for breakfast and lunch. There is a dedicated lab room for testing blood sugars before meals. Patients do their own urine testing.


  • The May Court Club becomes a valued donor to the centre.


  • By this time, two children's programs are added to the centre's services.


  • The centre receives $3,000 for audio visual teaching equipment.
  • By this time, about 200 people a month are seen at the centre.
  • Since its opening, the centre has seen 2,300 individuals with diabetes for a total of 12,000 visits.


  • The Diabetes Day Care Centre, an outpatient program for individuals starting on insulin, becomes part of the Diabetes Education Centre.


  • With a generous donation from Lawson Family the St. Joseph's Hospital Diabetes Education Centre becomes the Lawson Diabetes Centre.


  • Dorothy Gibson receives the Lifescan Diabetes Educator of the Year award given by the Canadian Diabetes Association in recognition of special contributions to diabetes education through dedication, sensitivity and innovation in the daily practice of patient education and care.
  • Dorothy is also recognized for wearing an insulin pump continuously since 1978 - a world record at the time. She would retire in 1991.
  • The Lawson Diabetes Centre moves to Mount St. Joseph.
  • Staff include three full time registered nurses, two full time dietitians, and a secretary.


  • First year of Certified Diabetes Educator Exam. Five diabetes educators from the centre become certified. Allis Daley, Millie Litt, Marilyn Marcotte, Wilma Prescod, Beryl Schultz.
  • The number of patient visits reaches about 400 per month and 3,700 per year.


  • With growing waits for care at the centre, programs are revamped. A four-week self-management session called Living Well with Diabetes begina and covers menu mapping, managing sick days, dining out, and managing stress. While teaching about dining out, Wilma Prescod asks "Why eat at Swiss Chalet instead of KFC?" One participant answers, "Because you get to sit down and order your meal."


  • The centre's 20th anniversary is celebrated with the creation of a cookbook for patients with diabetes, with recipes contributed by staff and patients alike.


  • Diabetes education currently available at Victoria Hospital, University Hospital and St. Joseph's Hospital undergoes restructuring and all diabetes education is amalgamated at St. Joseph's.


  • New group programs are created, including: 
  • Diabetes ABC's: A - Getting Started; B - Class Eat, Test & Be Merry; C-Here's to Your Health-Cheers!
  • Insulin pump
  • Insulin juggling
  • Advanced carb counting
  • Insulin starts


  • Diabetes London, a lecture series open to the public is created and held monthly at the London Central Library covering a variety of topics presented by leading experts.
  • Prediabetes classes begin


  • A social worker is added to  the team.


  • The centre moves back to St. Joseph's Hospital as part of the new Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metalbolism, which brings together education, treatment and research in one, purpose-built area. The name becomes the Diabetes Education Centre of St. Joseph's Health Care London.
  • The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care's Assistive Devices Program (ADP) is created to provide funding assistance to eligible individuals of all ages with type 1 diabetes to purchase insulin pumps and supplies. The centre sees a significant increase in pump starts.
  • Evening diabetes education classes start once per week.


  • The DEC web site is launched providing an expansive online resource for people living with diabetes or pre-diabetes. The site houses a wide range of practical and reliable patient information in a user-friendly format to help individuals manage their diabetes day-to-day. The easy-to-understand information covers living with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, gestational diabetes and pre-diabetes, and helps people understand the conditions and how they are managed and treated. All the information is also available in printer-friendly handouts.


  • Today, the Diabetes Education Centre sees more than 7,000 patient visits annually.
  • Staff includes 11 certified diabetes educators of which five are registered nurses and six are dietitians. There is also an advanced practice nurse.
Last updated: Fri, 2013-11-22 11:58