USF Diabetes Center celebrates 5 years of helping patients and families
Friends and supporters gathered Nov. 14 to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the opening of a new facility for the USF Diabetes Center on the fifth floor of the USF Health Morsani Center for Advanced Healthcare, and to recognize the impact the Center has had since then on patients and families coping with diabetes.
Surrounding the demonstration kitchen in the USF Diabetes Center, founding benefactors, current patients and their families, and supportive USF Health faculty and staff mingled and shared memories that spanned the five years. Guests then moved to the on-site classroom to hear updates on the Center’s progress. Remembering when the original space was only a shelled out, incomplete floor, Henry Rodriguez, MD, medical director and pediatric endocrinologist, recalled the excitement for designing a space with patients in mind.
“Back when this floor and the floor above us was all shelled space, when you could see from one end of the building to the other, we walked through a taped off area of the Diabetes Center,” Dr. Rodriguez said. “Since that time, we have done some pretty remarkable things. We have grown over the years and continue to expand our providers, our research team and our patient population.”
Dr. Rodriguez also presented statistics that mark the reality of diabetes for more than 30 million Americans, offering greater insight into the disease’s prevalence, impact, and projected increase in the number of diagnoses.
“I don’t need to convince anyone here of the urgency of looking at prevention to improve the lives of those affected by diabetes,” Dr. Rodriguez said. “Diabetes is expensive, because medical expenses for people with diabetes are double that of people who do not have diabetes. It’s also demanding, because it requires constant vigilance. And it’s a pain, because individuals with diabetes report a lower quality of life compared to the general population.”
The conversation turned to Jeffrey Krischer, PhD, Distinguished University Health Professor and director of the USF Health Informatics Institute, which has an internationally renowned team of experts in Type 1 diabetes and related autoimmune disorders. He offered details about new research that may impact current knowledge on how diabetes works and how it can be treated.
“Research is my passion and, as evidenced by the growth of our program over the last five years, my passion extends to helping children and adults who are affected by Type 1 diabetes,” Dr. Krischer said. “In the last five years, the amount of research here has grown and continues to grow. We have more to offer and more ways we can benefit our patients who come to us for care. We are a blend of both clinical care in a warm and supportive, multidisciplinary setting, and access to the latest, state-of-the-art therapies and research advancements that you can only find in this kind of setting.”
In answering a guest’s question about coordinating information among the multiple clinical centers, Dr. Krischer said, “Some 200 (clinical centers) participate with my office directly and we coordinate all of that research worldwide. So it’s done right here, on this campus, less than a tenth of a mile away from where we’re sitting right now. All of those programs look to us for these results. Research is complex these days and requires coordination, and I’m really proud of the fact that this is where it’s happening.”
The USF Diabetes Center opened in 2011, coinciding with World Diabetes Day, a day that marks the birthday of Frederick Banting, who co-discovered insulin in 1922. Today, the Center sees primarily patients with Type 1 diabetes, with about half adults and half children and adolescents. Most patients live in the region served by USF Health, but many are from across the state.
Key milestones for the USF Diabetes Center include:
- 2011: Ribbon Cutting that opened the USF Diabetes Center’s new facility on the fifth floor of the USF Health Morsani Center for Advanced Healthcare.
- 2012: The inaugural meeting of the Tampa Bay Diabetes Society, offering patients and families a resource for support and services.
- 2013: The USF Diabetes Center begins an Insulin Pump Program that provides new technology to patients and enhances patient care.
- 2014: USF named one of 19 TrialNet Clinical Centers in North America.
- 2015: USF Health consolidates the diabetes and endocrinology services to offer more streamlined care and expanded service locations.
- 2016: Sam Fuld’s Sports Camp, partnered with the USF Diabetes Center, is recognized by the Florida Sports Hall of Fame.
Photos by Eric Younghans, USF Health Office of Communications.