Comprehensive care for multiple sclerosis

Comprehensive care for multiple sclerosis

Newly designated center aims to provide care for all of the complex needs of patients with MS

By Dan Leveton

People living with multiple sclerosis across north Florida will now have another vote of confidence for treatment at UF Health Jacksonville.

The UF Health Jacksonville Comprehensive Multiple Sclerosis Program has been recognized as a Center for Comprehensive MS Care by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. The center is now just one of seven in the state to be recognized by the organization and the only one north of Orlando.

“This is an honor for UF Health Jacksonville and just as importantly singles out the dedicated caregivers who work together to find solutions for patients dealing with a very complicated disease,” said Scott Silliman, M.D., a UF Health neurologist. “Taking care of patients with MS is a true team effort. This designation is based on our track record of providing high-quality interdisciplinary and interprofessional care to patients with MS.”

Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease affecting the central nervous system, disrupting vision, balance and muscle coordination, and impairing thinking and memory. Patients with MS require specialized attention to their medical, social and psychological needs which are best met within a comprehensive center.

The society’s designation is granted to health centers demonstrating highly coordinated multidisciplinary care spanning medical, rehabilitative, nutrition and mental health services for MS patients. The designation reflects the varied and often complex issues related to living with MS, which is a chronic disease.

“This is a monumental accomplishment for our institution,” said Daniel Wilson, M.D., Ph.D., dean of the UF College of Medicine – Jacksonville. “With such a large population of MS patients in our community and the surrounding area, we feel it is our duty to find a way to give them not only excellent care but also hope.”

Part of UF Health Jacksonville’s Neuroscience Institute, the Comprehensive Multiple Sclerosis Program employs a team approach that focuses on the total care of the patient with MS, allowing specialists across multiple fields to collaboratively develop a comprehensive plan of care tailored to each patient’s individual needs. The program also offers the benefits of an academic health center, with the latest MS treatments and an active research program, allowing some patients the ability to enroll in clinical trials.

“The care our MS program provides is outstanding and it’s primarily due to the physicians, nurses and other caregivers who work every day to find solutions to help the patient,” said Russ Armistead, CEO of UF Health Jacksonville. “This recognition by the national society is well-earned, and on behalf of UF Health Jacksonville I offer my thanks.”

The Comprehensive Multiple Sclerosis Program is part of the UF Health Neuroscience Institute, which includes a nationally recognized interdisciplinary team of University of Florida neurologists and neurosurgeons. By participating in numerous national and international research projects and investing in the most sophisticated technology available, the institute offers state-of-the-art diagnostic, therapeutic and rehabilitative neurologic services.

“It has been one of the true highlights of my career to see this program grow and mature,” said Silliman. “We are now following more than 700 patients with MS, some of whom travel from as far as southern Alabama, the western Florida Panhandle, southern Georgia and central Florida to see us.”