Today, the ALS Association invested $50,000 into the Houston Methodist ALS Clinic led by neurologist Stanley H. Appel, MD, and recognized it as an ALS Association Certified Treatment Center of Excellence.
Dr. Appel has had a long-standing partnership with the Muscular Dystrophy Association and the collaboration among the three entities aims to provide top notch care to people with ALS, as well as provide maximum resources to patients and families. Many regular clinic patients were already turning to both MDA and the ALS Association for services. Dr. Appel’s top priority is the patient and making sure he or she has everything he or she needs, so when the opportunity arose for ALS Texas to partner with the Houston Methodist ALS Clinic, Dr. Appel agreed that it would be best for the patient.
“Our team at the Houston Methodist ALS Clinic provides hope by enhancing the level of care and the quality of life for our patients,” Dr. Appel said. “We are honored to have the ALS Association join our efforts. The patients will be the major beneficiaries.”
Dr. Appel’s multidisciplinary clinic was created in 1982 when he saw the multitude of needs of ALS patients and created this multidisciplinary model to allow patients to see multiple doctors of varying specialties in just one clinic visit rather than multiple separate appointments. The Houston Methodist ALS Clinic was the first multidisciplinary care center for patients with ALS in the nation.
“The multidisciplinary clinic was formed to meet the needs of the ALS patients during a single encounter,” Dr. Appel said.
The ALS Clinic Team Hope has 21 professionals from 11 specialties to help patients with ALS cope with their disease and apply the latest therapies and proactive management in a positive and caring setting. The clinic is hosted once a month, and patients attend every four months. The team includes a neurologist, dietician, occupational therapist, physical therapist, speech pathologist, respiratory therapist, and a pulmonary specialist. Support services include a social worker, an ALS Texas representative, and an MDA representative. The clinic also has a research team that discusses new studies with patients, a wheelchair vendor, augmentative communication device vendors, hospice referrals, counseling services, a lawyer, a financial planner, therapy dogs, a recreational therapist, and a pharmacist.
Some of the team members have been working together at the clinic for as long as 17 years. The team works to give patients hope, the reason for their team name. The way that the center is set up allows patients to talk with others just like them to learn about different variables of ALS, which helps people feel encouraged that they can live with this disease.
The clinicians will also participate in the Walk to Defeat ALS in Houston this year. “The patients will get a kick out of it,” says clinic coordinator Karen Toennis. “It will be fun for patients to see us in a different setting where we can visit in a less business-like atmosphere. It’s important to our clinic team to support our patients and participating in the Walk to Defeat ALS does just that.”
The Walk to Defeat ALS is the primary source of funding for the four multidisciplinary clinics across the state.
The clinic at Houston Methodist Hospital is the fourth Multidisciplinary Clinic in Texas to receive funds from the Association. The ALS Association funds clinics in Austin, San Antonio, and now two in Houston. The addition of this clinic is yet another step toward providing high-quality care to patients across the state.
“The Texas Chapter is committed to providing the best care and clinical research opportunities as possible, and this partnership with Dr. Appel moves us closer to that goal,” said Tanner Hockensmith, Executive Director, ALS Texas. “Dr. Appel has committed most of his career to the fight against ALS and finding a cure. We are privileged to join him in that fight.”
To learn more about the Houston Methodist ALS Clinic, click here.