Reflections On Our First 10 Years (2001-2011)
Parkinson's Clinic of the Ozarks:
The Parkinson's Clinic of the Ozarks was born out of the local Parkinson's support group's desire to have a clinic dedicated to the treatment of Parkinson's disease. These early ideas were rudimentary, but basically to be a clinic focused on the unique needs of PD patients.
It was actually many years in the making, but Mr. Mel Devries, an Assemblies of God pastor and founding member of the Assembly of God Foundation began shopping for a national organization that would be supportive of such an endeavor. At that time the American Parkinson's Disease Association (APDA) out of New York and the National Parkinson's Foundation (NPF) out of Miami were the prevalent organizations with grass roots support.
When I came to town, in 1990, fresh from fellowship training in Parkinson's disease and Movement disorders, these early goals were presented to me. By the late 1990's, Janice McCauley, social worker, took on the directorship of Senior Advantage at Cox Health systems, which included running the support groups for Parkinson's and other groups in the community.
Eventually, Janice and Debbie Hill, Director of Rehab services, and I made a trip to the Struthers Clinic in Golden Valley, Minnesota. This community-based Parkinson's clinic was funded by a Minnesota family. The basic model is that of an interdisciplinary clinic that included not only physicians, but close interaction between the various therapies, social worker, and a dedicated nurse to tie all the technical pieces together.
We observed their operation and were very impressed by what could be accomplished by such an effort. Through the process we made close connections and longtime friends with the National Parkinson's Foundation out of Miami and close associations with the late Mr. Nathan Slewett, founder, and a fantastic organizer, benefactor and recruiter of celebrities (such as Bob Hope ) for the cause of NPF and Parkinson's disease .
We were encouraged by these associations to become members of the NPF and through these means we were initially designated an Outreach Center, then we moved up to Care Center designation. So that by the year 2006 we had received recognition as NPF Care Centers in the world.
In the years that followed, we have gained recognition as a model Care Center staffed with neurologists, social workers, dedicated nurse and therapists.
In 2004, CoxHealth hosted NPF's Allied Team Training for Parkinson's (ATTP) which provides specialized Parkinson's training on the interdisciplinary care of Parkinson's disease patient and caregivers. This meeting was held at the then newly built Walnut Lawn / Meyers Center facility. The national organizers were very impressed with the facility.
We've also instituted some well-recognized expertise in the area of speech and physical therapies with the initiation of the Lee Silverman Speech Therapy course and the newly initiated BIG therapy course, which improves failing speech and movement functions, otherwise not responsive to medications.
Currently we have Lisa Potthoff, RN who has been an outstanding nurse for the clinic patients. We have also compiled an outstanding team of physical, occupational, and speech therapists who have received additional training in the unique care of Parkinson's patient and the caregiver.
It's also important to recognize the team of Ferrell-Duncan neurologists, who manage the complex care of the Parkinson's patients. On the leading edge of therapies is the Deep Brain Stimulator program. When pharmacotherapy begins to falter, we can offer in collaboration with neurosurgeons the implantable device to improve motor response and reduce medication side-effects.
Lastly but not least, Janice McCauley and Judee Steward of the CoxHealth Senior Advantage office, have contributed enormous efforts to be the "glue" that keeps the interdisciplinary team together.
Having worked with Janice for the past 10 years, I can clearly say that if it were not for her perseverance and dedication to the care of Parkinson's patients in the Ozarks, the clinic would not be what it is today. It is one of the 14 NPF designated Care Centers in the United States.
She has toiled over grant applications and met with the powers at NPF numerous times and through her tireless effort has put us on the map of "places to go" if you have Parkinson's disease.
We mustn't forget the accomplishment of the PCO team is greater than the sum of its parts. Together, we offer the most up-to-date services, support, information and referrals to accomplish the task of interdisciplinary care of persons with Parkinson's disease.
Thank you for all your efforts and we are looking forward to many more years of service to this community.
George F. Wong III, MD
Medical Director, Parkinson's Clinic of the Ozarks