On Dec.12, 2013, we received a surprising and sad email from the San Diego-based Behavioral Diabetes Institute (BDI) essentially saying they are closing down for the foreseeable future. What?!
This first of its kind non-profit that's been addressing the physiological struggles of living with diabetes like no one else in the world -- with workshops and programs on topics like depression and spouse & partner support that we all hoped would spread across the country? And headed by the successful and beloved Dr. William Polonsky? That just celebrated its 10th anniversary? How could they be going away?
But indeed, the recent email read as follows:
To our friends of BDI,
2013 began as an exciting year for BDI. Thanks to the arrival of new funding and new resources, we had the opportunity to begin the development of an expansion of our services to a global audience. As you know, given the growing prevalence of diabetes around the world, and the lack of quality information about how to manage the behavioral and emotional challenges facing anyone who lives with diabetes 24/7, every day of the year, such services are sorely needed.
But -- quite unexpectedly -- BDI has found itself facing a financial crisis that, in spite of all efforts, we have not been able to overcome. Consequently, BDI must revise its operations to reflect the reality of insufficient resources. For the immediate future, BDI will be restricting its activities to project research, the ongoing development of training programs for healthcare professionals, and the sale and distribution of its printed materials.
Therefore, effective immediately, BDI will be cancelling the 2014 workshops and programs, will cease publication of its newsletter, and will curtail its Diabetes TLC services. Sadly, BDI will be unable to pursue its efforts to make diabetes information and education available through online courses and services at this time. The BDI website will be altered to reflect these cuts.
Please note that Drs. Polonsky, Guzman and Abascal will be continuing to accept and see individual patients with diabetes.
Over the years, BDI has heard many of you tell your stories about living with diabetes. We know of the challenges you face, the hardships you endure, and-thankfully-the triumphs that so many of have achieved. And we know that many of you have found our BDI programs and services to be helpful. No one feels sadder than us, your BDI staff, about the necessity of cutting back on what we have offered over the past decade.
We do not expect that this will be a permanent situation, and we remain hopeful that BDI will be resuming its programs and services in the near future.
We sincerely thank each of you for your interest in and support of BDI. You have had an impact on each of us at BDI, and we wish you well as you continue on your diabetes journey. We hope and expect you will live a long, healthy, and happy life, and please know that you are not alone.
Bill, Susan, Charla, Dennis, Liana, and Michelle,
Your BDI staff
Included was this "Thank You, BDI" video that really made the news hit home:
What the heck happened? I talked with Dr. Polonsky over the phone and the first thing he said was, "I'm just as surprised as you were!" Apparently, the grants they were counting on simply didn't come through. He hopes to "keep the doors open" in the next months based on research projects alone, and then shift to a focus on CME (Continuing Medical Education) for diabetes educators -- an area where he hopes more grant money will be available in the short-term. They're also looking at building up a type 2 research registry that would focus on data tracking of "the touchy-feelie stuff" patients experience.
In the meantime, what about patients who had relied on their programs?
"I get the most amazing emails... People are so broken-hearted over this, it's incredible," Polonsky said, sighing.
Meanwhile he's busy grappling with tying up business ends, like subletting the large offices they rented near UC San Diego. There isn't much any of us BDI fans can do at the moment, he says, unless someone's really committed to volunteering their time to fund raise for BDI on a large scale. Stay tuned for more updates.
For now, all we can do is bid a fond adieu to the wonderful BDI -- and hope that it's reincarnated very soon!