Winthrop's MS Treatment Center Continues to Elevate Standard of Care & Research


Vol. 17, No. 1
Winter 2006/2007

  • Advanced Cardiology Techniques Enhance & Expand Treatment Options at Winthrop's Institute for Heart Care

  • Winthrop Elects New Members to Board of Directors

  • Scientific Research is Basic to Winthrop's Mission

  • Weight Management Program Takes Aim at Obesity

  • New Translation Service Breaks Language Barrier

  • Jay's World Foundation Dedicates Fifth Room in Cancer Center Unit

  • Winthrop's Lung Cancer Center: Cutting-Edge, Compassionate & Comprehensive Care

  • Winthrop's Home Health Agency Among Nation's Elite

  • Winthrop's MS Treatment Center Continues to Elevate Standard of Care & Research

  • New Pre-Diabetes Intervention Program Takes Flight at Winthrop

  • Organ Donor Network Medal of Honor

  • McCormack Fund Shows Support for Cardiopulmonary Stress Lab

  • A True Champion

  • Bay's Big Bash

  • The Franceschini Family Supports Colon Cancer Research

  • Evening of Tasting and Giving

  • Lippert Family Dinner Dance Raises $35,000 for Cancer Center for Kids

  • Residency Programs Get the Nod

  • Truckloads of Toys

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  • Since 2001, Christine Posner has been traveling from her Rocky Point home in eastern Long Island to Winthrop-University Hospital's Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Treatment Center in Mineola every three months. The round-trip takes three hours, but she believes it's a small price to pay for her continued well-being.

    She was first diagnosed with MS -- the most common cause of chronic neurological disability in young adults -- six years ago at the age of 31. She had been misdiagnosed for the previous 10 years, despite her symptoms, which included weakness in her legs, tingling hands, serious problems with balance and blurry vision. After being diagnosed with MS and treated for a year without any improvement, she came to Winthrop's MS Center, where Malcolm Gottesman, MD, Chief of the Division of Neurology and Director of the MS Center, began to manage her care.

    "The Center has changed my life," she said. "I'm symptom-free now. And, when they do appear, they're milder than before. Since Dr. Gottesman has been treating me, I've been basically healthy."

    While the cause of MS remains a mystery, it is considered an inflammatory disease that damages areas of the protective insulation (myelin) surrounding the nerves in the central nervous system (brain and spine).

    "MS is difficult to diagnose," said Dr. Gottesman. "It shares many characteristics of other diseases, and there is no single test to confirm its existence. Only after ruling out other conditions can we confirm an MS diagnosis.

    "Although we have no cure yet, the last 10 years have been a watershed decade for advances in treatment options, which have evolved from a single medication to the use of multiple drugs in combination that can stabilize patients and retard progression."

    The Center's mission is to provide compassionate patient care, conduct research and promote professional and patient education. Since its inception in 1997, the program has grown steadily and established itself at the forefront of MS treatment and research.

    Patient Care


    Malcolm Gottesman, MD, Chief of the Neurology Division and Director of the MS Center (third from left) with dedicated staff (l.-r.), Sharon Friedman-Urevich, RN, Nurse Practitioner and Coordinator of Winthrop's MS Treatment Program; Denise Cheng, RN; and Eileen Boylan, RN.
    With about 1,500 patient visits annually, the Center's staff has become known for the concerned, personalized attention bestowed on each patient. "With most chronic illnesses, where there's no cure, the next best thing is to develop a relationship with a medical team that takes the time to really listen to you," said Mindy Alpert, who has been treated for MS at Winthrop since 1999.

    MS patients at the Center receive much more than attention to their physical needs. "Our strength as an MS Center is our expertise and knowledge in helping patients manage and cope with this serious disease," said Sharon Friedman-Urevich, RN, Nurse Practitioner and Coordinator of Winthrop's Multiple Sclerosis Treatment Program. "Our association with specialists who treat the various symptoms connected with MS, such as pain management, depression, bladder control and spasticity -- and our ability to expedite referrals to them -- enhances our ability to improve patients' quality of life."

    Since manifestations of MS depend on which part of the central nervous system is affected, psychosocial symptoms such as depression are not uncommon. "We treat the disease as well as help patients manage their symptoms," said Ms. Friedman-Urevich. "Our team listens and talks to our patients -- that's key to the quality of care we provide."

    Although Ms. Alpert's disease has progressed since beginning treatment at the Center, she believes she's at the best place she can be. "I'm in a much better place emotionally since coming to the Center," she explained. "It's a big relief to have a responsive medical team. When I call, I know I'll get an answer to my question."

    In addition to the clinical team that practices at the Center, Winthrop offers a community-based team approach. Eileen Boylan, RN, certified in MS care, provides specialized nursing care to patients with MS and their families. Her work includes training patients and families to inject medications, as well as helping patients to manage the often-unpredictable and fluctuating symptoms they can experience.

    The MS Center also offers office-based infusions of the newest MS medication, Tysabri(R), recently approved by the FDA and recommended for patients who have not responded well to other MS medications. The MS Center is one of only five centers on Long Island certified for intravenous administration of Tysabri(R). Denise Cheng, RN, also certified in MS care, recently joined the team to oversee the infusion of this new drug. "We are happy to be able to provide this service to our patients who come to the Center once a month for the infusion," said Ms. Cheng.

    Research

    Research at the MS Center is extensive. Currently participating in several multi-center clinical drug trials, the Center is also one of 15 facilities in New York State collaborating to study patient outcomes and risk factors for developing MS. In addition, Dr. Gottesman and his staff conduct original research, including a study of the safety and tolerability of a double dose of Betaseron(R), the first FDA-approved medication that effectively reduced the exacerbation rate of MS by a third.

    "We are fortunate to be in a position, by virtue of the clinical research we conduct at Winthrop, to be able to offer our patients new therapies such as Tysabri, that would otherwise not be available to them," said Dr. Gottesman.

    Education

    The MS Center has also assumed a leadership position with regard to disseminating information about the disease. Ms. Friedman-Urevich recently founded the Long Island MS Nurse's Society, with professionals devoted to sharing information about MS clinical care, as well as educating patients about the latest treatment options. "We strive to continuously elevate our standard of care, and raise awareness about available treatment," she explained. "People can cope with a lot if they have the proper knowledge and support."

    As a result of its wide ranging services, cutting-edge treatment modalities and extensive research, the MS Center at Winthrop has received recognition, as well as accreditation, from both the National and Long Island MS Societies.

    For more information, call Winthrop's Institute for Neurosciences at 1-866-NEURO-Rx or visit www.winthrop.org.



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