The designation follows a rigorous clinical and administrative review by the association and a vote of its board. Earning the recognition means the clinic meets a national standard of quality and implements best-practice care for patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
In addition to celebrating the designation, the University of Louisville announced the establishment of a research fund to further the activities of the clinic as it pursues its goal of becoming a Certified Center for Excellence. Dr. James Ramsey, president of the University of Louisville, kicked off the new UofL ALS research fund with a personal donation of $10,000, which he announced at the news conference Tuesday.
“For me, ALS is personal,” Ramsey said. “My mother-in-law passed away from ALS, and developing this clinic and an ALS research program at UofL has been a goal of mine for a long time. I hope others will choose to donate to UofL’s ALS research program as well so we might help find the cause and a cure for this devastating disease.”
Ramsey made his donation as part of the “ice bucket challenge” that has swept the nation since July and greatly raised awareness of ALS and contributions to ALS research. He participated in the challenge on Aug. 28 on the UofL Health Sciences Campus. (Watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3im8sWo1R3g&feature=youtu.be)
On Tuesday, The ALS Association’s Kentucky Chapter also presented the UofL Physicians ALS Clinic with a $10,000 check.
“We are proud to present this one-time donation to the UofL Physicians ALS Clinic, which is made possible by a gift from Heaven Hill Distilleries through the sale of Parker’s Heritage bourbon to help us continue to fulfill our three mission priorities, one of which is to expand our care services,” said Mari Bacon, executive director of the chapter.
Parker’s Heritage Collection bourbon is named for Parker Beam, a sixth-generation master distiller for Heaven Hill who has ALS. As a way to help The ALS Association raise funds to find a cure, Heaven Hill donates a portion from the sale of every bottle to The ALS Association.
The ALS Association’s Certified Center Program – which includes Recognized Treatment Clinics and Certified Centers of Excellence – selects, recognizes and supports distinguished institutions recognized as the best in the field when it comes to knowledge, skill and experience with ALS; access to care; and neurological diagnostics and imaging. Recognized Treatment Clinics must also have an on-site designated multidisciplinary team.
Other requirements to become a Recognized Treatment Clinic are serving a number of patients living with ALS, and an ongoing relationship with the local chapter to provide programs to assist those with ALS and their families. The primary goal of the ALS recognition process is to ensure each patient receives the best evidence-based care closely linked to positive outcomes.
The designation confirms to patients and families, as well as government institutions and other key stakeholders, the validity and comprehensiveness of the UofL Physicians program.
“We are honored to recognize the University of Louisville Physicians ALS Clinic for the staff’s expertise, and for all they have done and are continuing to do for patients living with the disease,” said Shawn Mullennex, president of the board for The ALS Association’s Kentucky Chapter. “Becoming a Recognized Treatment Clinic is not easy to achieve, and patients who come to the UofL Physicians clinic can feel confident that they are receiving the best care possible, in a compassionate and caring environment.”
Mullennex presented clinic director Dr. Martin Brown with a plaque designating the UofL Physicians ALS Clinic as an ALS Recognized Treatment Clinic, a goal that was years in the making. Brown was joined by Dr. Kerri Remmel, chief of vascular neurology at University of Louisville Physicians, and Randy Napier, president of Frazier Rehab Institute, in receiving the plaque.
Lisa Shannon, chief operating officer of KentuckyOne Health, said the UofL Physicians ALS Clinic at Frazier Rehab “is indeed yet another example of the partnership between UofL, Frazier Rehab and KentuckyOne Health to advance medical care and research in the Commonwealth.”
“It is our mission to bring wellness, healing and hope to all, including the underserved. The ALS clinic and the research that will be done here is part of that mission, and I want to emphasize the word ‘hope,’” Shannon said. “ALS is a devastating disease. But through research, there is hope. Hope for better care and advancements in treatment that can improve quality of life for these patients, and maybe one day find a cure.”
Napier added “We are honored to be the home of the ALS Clinic and the physicians, staff and researchers that will work with us every day to make a difference in the lives of the patients and their families who entrust us for care. The Frazier Rehab team that cares for ALS patients is an incredibly dedicated group of professionals – from physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy to psychology, pulmonary rehab and case management.”
UofL ALS research
Brown said the new UofL research program will have two components: clinical research, which includes trials of possible treatments for existing patients; and basic science research of ALS to try to determine how the disease starts and why it progresses.
“We don’t know what causes ALS, why it starts or how it spreads from one limb to another,” Brown said. “It’s hard to come up with a treatment if we don’t know the underlying cause. Our goal is to try to answer some of those questions, and give patients more hope through clinical trials that might make a difference. Research is the key to fighting ALS.”
History of the UofL Physicians ALS Clinic
UofL’s quest to serve patients with ALS started with a conversation nearly 10 years ago between Dr. Kerri Remmel, chair of the Department of Neurology at the University of Louisville School of Medicine, and UofL President Dr. James Ramsey. It was an important cause for both – for Dr. Remmel as a neurologist, and for Dr. Ramsey for his family.
Dr. Martin Brown was then hired in 2007 to help develop the clinic, and in 2011, he met with The ALS Association’s national chief of care services, Kim Maginnis, and the Kentucky Chapter’s executive director, Mari Bacon, to discuss becoming a Recognized Treatment Clinic. He had already begun seeing patients, and he and clinic coordinator Johanna Harris had started working with the association’s Kentucky care services manager, Patricia Peak.
In June 2013, the clinic became a reality, seeing patients on the sixth floor at Frazier Rehab Institute, 220 Abraham Flexner Way. On Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014, the clinic became a Recognized Treatment Clinic by the ALS Association.
About University of Louisville Physicians
University of Louisville Physicians is the largest multispecialty physician practice in the Louisville region, with nearly 600 primary care and specialty physicians in more than 78 specialties and subspecialties. Our doctors are the professors and researchers of the University of Louisville School of Medicine, teaching tomorrow’s physicians and leading research into medical advancements. For more on UofL Physicians, visit www.uoflphysicians.com.
About Frazier Rehab Institute
Frazier Rehab Institute, a part of KentuckyOne Health, is a comprehensive rehabilitation system with more than 20 locations throughout Kentucky and southern Indiana, providing therapy in acute care settings for inpatient and outpatient rehab needs. Comprehensive rehab programs, highly skilled therapists, state-of-the-art-facilities and innovative therapeutic techniques have earned Frazier Rehab Institute national recognition. Patients span the age range from infancy to geriatrics with a wide variety of diagnoses which include neurologic (spinal cord injury, brain injury and stroke), amputations, multiple trauma, orthopaedic, arthritis, cardiopulmonary, congenital, developmental, degenerative and general medical cases.
About The ALS Association, Kentucky Chapter
For additional information on ALS, please visit www.alsaky.org or call 800-406-7702.