Thursday, November 13, 2008

Duke ALS Clinic Hits a Home Run

The game of baseball has an unfortunate connection to the neurodegenerative disease ALS…or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis…or Lou Gehrig's disease. It claimed the life of the Yankee legend, and the disease bears his name - a dubious honor.

In the modern era, ALS afflicted NC native and Hall of Famer Jim “Catfish” Hunter who died in 1999. That brings me to another connection.

The Durham Bulls’ support the NC chapter of the ALS Association, the Jim "Catfish" Hunter Chapter, based in Raleigh. I’m on the chapter board, and we received some very good news this week.

On November 13th the ALS clinic at Duke University Medical Center was recognized as a Center of Excellence by the national ALS Assn. Congratulations to Dr. Richard Bedlack and his team. They provide care to over 300 ALS patients, and the clinic works closely with our chapter. We’re collaborating to improve care for patients in central and eastern NC. Duke, named one of America’s best hospitals in 2008 by U.S. News & World Report, has been important to that strategy.

From the ALS Assn. news release:

The ALS Association’s Jim “Catfish” Hunter Chapter in North Carolina works very closely with the clinic and has helped the clinic grow from one physician and physical therapist to include a nurse practitioner, an additional physical therapist, occupational therapist, speech therapists, assistive technology specialist, a neuropsychologist, respiratory therapist, equipment vendor and nurse. The team received a major boost when a full time coordinator and social worker joined the staff.

“Dr. Bedlack and his team of experts are held in high regard by so many coping with ALS and we consider it an honor to support and have a partnership with them,” said Jerry Dawson, president and CEO of the chapter. We are extremely proud of them.”

Beyond the Bull City, Dr. Bedlack and Duke have been unselfish and generous in helping the chapter establish a new clinic at Pitt County Memorial Hospital. The ribbon cutting was September 26th. Now, ALS patients in eastern NC won't have to travel to Durham for treatment.

NC has two other clinics: In Charlotte, the MDA/ALS Center at Carolinas Medical Center. In Winston-Salem, the Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center’s ALS Clinic, another Center of Excellence.

ALS is a terrible disease. No known cause. No known cure. But these centers are on the frontline with compassionate care and research.

Check out the
Jim "Catfish" Hunter Chapter. We need your support!