New ALS Clinic Opens at USF Health

Tampa, FL (Oct. 28, 2010) — USF Health and The ALS Association Florida Chapter this week celebrated the long-awaited opening of Central Florida’s first major clinic focusing solely on patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) – also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

The opening ceremony, held Oct. 27 at USF Health’s Carol & Frank Morsani Center for Advanced Healthcare, included some of the Tampa Bay area’s strongest advocates in the fight against ALS.

“So many in this room have been touched by ALS,” said Clifton Gooch, MD, professor and chairperson of the USF Department of Neurology and an ALS specialist. “This clinic is the perfect symbol of what can happen at USF Health, to be able to advance the fight against this disease.”

 “The opening of this USF Health ALS Clinic is the beginning of a wonderful relationship, and it’s the beginning of the end for this horrible disease,” said Stephen Klasko, MD, MBA, CEO of USF Health and dean of the USF College of Medicine, acknowledging the partnership between USF Health and the ALS Assocation Florida Chapter that made the clinic possible.

ALS is a neuromuscular disease that progressively paralyzes its victims, attacking nerve cells and pathways in the brain or spinal cord. Patients are robbed of the ability to walk, eat, speak, and eventually breathe. The average lifespan from the time of diagnosis is just two to five years. There is currently no known cause or cure for ALS.

The specially trained healthcare professionals at the new USF Health ALS Clinic will include neurologists, a physical therapist, occupational therapist, respiratory therapist, nurse, registered dietician, psychologist or psychiatrist, speech and language pathologist, and social worker. In addition, the clinic will offer patient education and have a research component. In addition, the clinic will offer patient education and have a research component. Directing the new clinic is Tuan Vu, MD, professor of neurology and director of Neuromuscular Division at USF Health.

An initial $100,000 donation from local businessman and USF alumn Stephen Blume and fiancee Jennifer Leavengood served as the catalyst to launch the clinic.  The gift, presented in July, is part of the USF: Unstoppable Campaign.

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