Norton Children’s will use the largest single donation it has ever received to transform the Wendy Novak Diabetes Center into the Wendy Novak Diabetes Institute.
Norton Children’s Hospital and the Lift a Life Novak Family Foundation announced the gift and the creation of the new diabetes institute at a ceremony Tuesday morning.
The $15 million is a gift from Lift a Life Novak Family Foundation, a charitable trust established in 1999 by David and Wendy Novak. It’s the largest private individual gift. The money will be a solid starting point for the $60 million vision to build the top diabetes institute in the country.
During the ceremony, Lynnie Meyer, chief development officer, Norton Healthcare, discussed how diabetes is a disease that affects children and families throughout their lifetime.
The Wendy Novak Diabetes Center, a service of Norton Children’s Hospital, is already recognized for having one of the nation’s top diabetes programs. The $60 million project’s goal will be to expand the current facility and offer more research opportunities in diabetes.
Besides a state-of-the-art facility, the expansion will allow more research, new initiatives to focus on west Louisville and southern Indiana, as well providing staff for mental health resources for people with diabetes.
The new institute is also expected to expand transitional care as children become adults to reduce any lapse in care, including an expansion into resources for expecting parents to navigate pregnancy with diabetes.
The center’s namesake — Wendy Novak — has Type 1 diabetes. Her daughter Ashley Novak Butler recalled an incident with her mother that helped inspire the donation.
“She had low blood sugar during the night, and I found her unresponsive, and I had to call the ambulance and rushed her to the hospital while my father was on a business trip,” Butler said. “Later on we gathered after this incident and we vowed that if we were ever given the opportunity to make a difference in diabetes, we would do it and today’s that day.”
David Novak attended Tuesday’s ceremony, along with Norton CEO and President Russ Cox, chief development officer Lynnie Meyer, and Kupper A. Wintergerst, M.D., a pediatric endocrinologist at Norton Children’s Hospital.
The transformation of the Wendy Novak Diabetes Center into the Wendy Novak Diabetes Institute is still in the planning phase and is expected to be a multiyear process.