Parkinsons Clinic Gets Moving

October 18, 2002
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GRAND RAPIDS — After securing more than $700,000 in pledges to open a new Parkinson's disease clinic, Saint Mary's Mercy Medical Center plans to continue seeking support for the center.

The new Hauenstein Parkinson's Center will surely see increased patient volumes in the future, requiring new equipment, upgrades and capacity expansion, said Micki Benz, vice president for community development at Saint Mary's.

"Now we must begin the process of raising the money for sustaining this center," Benz said following a ceremonial ribbon-cutting last week.

Saint Mary's provided about $267,000 of the $700,000 through in-kind contributions such as paying renovation costs for the clinic and buying furnishings and equipment, Benz said.

The center, through reimbursement payments from health insurers and other payers, will become self-sustaining within two years, Saint Mary's CEO Phil McCorkle said. Further contributions generated by fund-raising activities will go to cover future needs for the clinic, particularly items or issues that arise as the center and the treatment of Parkinson's disease evolves, McCorkle said.

"We may identify some needs we didn't know about today that may be expensive," he said.

The center — named for Ralph and Grace Hauenstein, lead donors and leaders of the fund-raising campaign — brings together in a single, convenient location many of the medical and ancillary services Parkinson's patients and their families require to cope with and manage the disease, including medical professionals, psychologists and psychiatrists, dieticians, therapists and social workers.

"I see this as a great precursor of great things to come," Ralph Hauenstein said.

Parkinson's disease, a progressive neurological disorder, affects about 50,000 people in Michigan. About 200 new Parkinson's cases are diagnosed annually in a six-county region of western Michigan. Population growth is expected to push that rate to nearly 300 new cases annually by 2005.

Saint Mary's developed the clinic, touted as the first if its kind in the state, under the same holistic approach to treating patients as the new Lacks Cancer Treatment Center now under construction.

"I hope, in the future, this will be a model for other communities to follow," said Dr. Leslie Neuman, the clinic's medical director. He called last week's ribbon cutting and the clinic's opening "a great day for Parkinson's patents."               

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