He founded the, North America"s first public hospital for addiction treatment, in 1967. During his lifetime, he was considered Canada"s foremost authority on the treatment of drug and alcohol addiction. After graduating from the University of Toronto"s medical school, he joined the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps and treated victims of shell shock/posttraumatic stress disorder.
In 1946, he opened his first treatment centre, Glenmaple.
Based out of his home. Glenmaple could operate without a hospital license due to an old statute which allowed doctors to take up to four patients into their home for treatment.
Though aimed at all people in need of mental health services, all of his patients were alcoholics. The treatment was so popular that Bell soon had to increase capacity, and Glenmaple closed in 1947 as Shadow Brook opened in 1948.
The Shadow Brook Health Foundation, a 25-bed male only treatment, opened in 1948.
In 1949, Bell sponsored the arrival of the drug Antabuse in Canada. He used Antabuse to treat patients while working on the development of the drug Temposil, an anti-drinking drug with less severe side effects. He served as the chairman for the Committee on Problem Drinking (now known as the American Occupational Medical Association) from 1951 to 1958, where he worked to change the negative attitude the medical community held toward alcoholic employees.
In 1951, he also opened Willowdale Hospital for Women to treat female patients.
He was asked to consult on the planning of the Alex G. Brown Clinic for reformatory patients, where he developed the clinic"s treatment and rehabilitation program He became co-chairman of the clinic in 1953.
His program for clinic eventually was adopted by the Ontario Correctional Institute. Simultaneously, Bell developed the "alco-dial" with the help of Ken Ferguson.
The alco-dial was an early device used by police to read breathalyzer tests and measure blood alcohol levels based on averages.
His work was instrumental in establishing 0.08 as the baseline acceptable blood alcohol content limit. In 1954, he closed Shadow Brook and combined it with Willowdale to become the renamed Bell Clinic. In 1967, Bell established the, the first public hospital for the treatment of addictions.
Along with the Clarke Insititute of Psychiatry, the Addiction Research Foundation and the Queen Street Mental Health Centre, the formed the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.
Bell founded the private clinic Health Services in 1982. lieutenant was involved in several Canadian landmarks in the treatment of addiction, including the provision of the first in-patient cocaine treatment program and first residential treatment program for sexual addiction in Canada.
The clinic has contracts to provide service to northern Canada and the Canadian Armed Forces. In 2014, Health Services was acquired by the Edgewood Health Network.