Beaming purple, USF Health Byrd Institute celebrates new memory care center

The USF Health Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute was illuminated Thursday evening in shades of purple – the signature color of Alzheimer’s disease — as faculty, staff, caregivers and university, community and governmental leaders gathered to celebrate the opening of its one-stop memory care center.

The new Center for Memory C.A.R.E. reaches a whole new level in applying the latest technology and research to the diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, while helping ease the anxiety and difficulties of patients and their caregivers.

Guests had a chance to tour the distinctive $3.5-million second-floor center, where a multispecialty team will begin seeing new patients Dec. 1. Among the features that set it apart: An onsite PET scanner that will help diagnose patients with dementia earlier and a small-scale apartment to test the ability of patients to perform routine daily tasks like cooking and doing laundry.

Standing at a podium backed by shimmering strands of purple beads, the David Morgan, CEO of the USF Health Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute, served as the evening’s moderator. He thanked all who had helped to make the C.A.R.E, Center a reality and introduced the speakers.

What they said about the Center for Memory C.A.R.E. and Byrd Institute:

“I can’t tell you how ecstatic I am to have reached a day when we have something we can look at and touch – something tangible that shows the greatness this Institute has before it… We’ve already leveraged $1 million in basic science funding into 22 new research grants totaling more than $9 million over the next few years… Now, we’ll leverage this marvelous second-floor center to help move our clinical research forward.”

– David Morgan, PhD, CEO of USF Health Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute

“Wow, this is transformative… This is a new model in looking at Alzheimer’s as a disease that can be prevented and will eventually be a memory. The Byrd Institute is going to be the beginning of the revolution in making sure Alzheimer’s disease can be diagnosed and treated before anyone gets it.”

– Stephen Klasko, MD, CEO of USF Health and dean, College of Medicine

“Our goal in finding Alzheimer’s in the living brain is not to give people bad news early. It’s to develop treatments faster… The PET imaging upstairs today is leading the drug development. Someday, we’ll have the (new) drugs to treat people in ways we don’t have today… It’s not pie in the sky to say that Alzheimer’s disease will one day be a memory… Places like this will change things.”

– William E. Klunk, MD, PhD, distinguished professor of psychiatry and neurology and
co-chairman, Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, University of Pittsburgh

“To have one place where you can go for patient assessment, diagnosis, treatment, clinical trial involvement, caregiver support and education. A beautiful, tranquil place where everyone knows your name and you need only to show up and enjoy the amenities. What a gift.”

– Sherrill Tomasino, caregiver and chair of Byrd Institute Board of Directors

“When my husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s we had just moved to Florida, and I had no family or friends here. It was a devastating time in my life… This will be a wonderful place for caregivers to come with their loved ones to learn how to care for them and to receive the emotional support that they need.”

– Francine Shebell, caregiver and donor to Peter and Francine Shebell Family Consultation Room

L to R: Johnnie B. Byrd, Jr, former board chair;  Dr. David Morgan, CEO, USF Health Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute; USF President Judy Genshaft; Dr. Amanda Smith, medical director,
Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute; and Dr. Stephen Klasko, CEO of USF Health and dean, College
of Medicine.

Dr. William Klunk, co-director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at
the University of Pittsburgh, was the featured speaker at the grand opening.

Sherrill Tomasino, board chair, USF Health Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute

The Eric Pfeiffer PET Imaging Center, named in honor of Dr. Pfeiffer (above),
houses the first onsite PET scanner in an Alzheimer’s facility in Florida.

A group tours the small-scale apartment  in the C.A.R.E. Center’s
Functional Assessments Facility.

 Story by Anne DeLotto Baier, and photos by Eric Younghans, USF Health Communications