Local gift to help start Bay area's only academic ALS clinic

Central Florida’s first major clinic focusing solely on patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) – also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease – is scheduled to open this fall at USF, thanks to a generous gift from two local business people.

Accepting the donation that will start an ALS clinic in the Morsani Center are, from left, Nancy Baily, from the ALS Association Florida Chapter, Stephen Blume, Jennifer Leavengood, and Dr. Clifton Gooch.

Stephen Blume and fiancée Jennifer Leavengood presented $100,000 last month to the local chapter of the ALS Association, which in turn presented the gift to Clifton Gooch, MD, professor and chairperson of the USF Department of Neurology and an ALS specialist.

“The Tampa Bay area has never had a multidisciplinary clinic specializing in ALS, which is incredible considering we are such a large metropolitan area,” Dr. Gooch said. “We’re very thankful that Mr. Blume provided this seed money and know that local ALS patients will benefit greatly from his generosity.”

A portion of the funds were put to immediate use in hiring a nurse coordinator for the clinic, a critical point person for ALS patients in coordinating all of their care across multiple specialties.

“It’s so nice to see how this gift has such an immediate impact,” said Blume, whose father died from ALS. “This clinic is transformational and will provide a much-needed resource for Tampa area patients and their families.”

Blume owns Blume Mechanical, a Clearwater-based company offering heating, ventilating, air conditioning, plumbing, and sheet metal contracting services. This is not his first connection with USF; in 1984, he graduated from USF’s Executive MBA program.

Leavengood is a managerial accountant at Blume Mechanical.

The new USF ALS clinic is expected to open late fall in USF Health’s Morsani Center for Advanced Healthcare on the USF campus. For more information, please call (813) 396-9478.

Story by Sarah Worth, USF Health Office of Communications

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