Hackensack Meridian’s status as comprehensive care center renewed

Recognition by NMSS given to centers with expert, multidisciplinary MS care

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by Mary Chapman |

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The National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS) again has certified Hackensack Meridian Neuroscience Institute’s Center for Multiple Sclerosis and Related Diseases at Hackensack University Medical Center as a multiple sclerosis (MS) comprehensive care center.

In addition to meeting the NMSS’ core requirements, the certification’s renewal also recognizes the neurologists who practice at Hackensack Meridian Health’s JFK University Medical Center — one of its other New Jersey locations.

The renewal is through the organization’s Partners in MS Care program, which designates providers who have demonstrated knowledge and expertise in treating the neurodegenerative disorder. These providers can include neurologists, physical therapists, mental health providers, urologists, and those specializing in long-term care.

Such care partners may also include Centers for Comprehensive MS Care — including Hackensack’s MS center, part of Hackensack Meridian Health — which address patients’ needs through coordinated multidisciplinary care, from medical and psycho-social care to rehabilitation.

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Partners, which collaborate with the society, provide MS patients with healthcare professionals who specialize in the disorder and possess a thorough understanding of patient resources, programs, and services.

“As a Comprehensive MS Center, the Hackensack Meridian Neuroscience Institute, isn’t just treating one aspect of a person’s MS diagnosis, but working collaboratively across disciplines to treat the whole patient,” Florian Thomas, MD, PhD, chair of the Neuroscience Institute, said in a press release.

To become an NMSS care partner, candidates must undergo a review process in which their MS knowledge and expertise are vetted by a committee of peers. Under the organization’s criteria, at least 20% of a provider’s patients must have MS and/or another chronic neurologic illness.

Each partner also must have a minimum of two years of clinical experience, practice evidenced-based care, and collaborate with other clinicians treating MS.

In addition to diagnosing MS patients, the Hackensack center addressed various disease symptoms, including those affecting the bladder, sexual issues, spasticity, headaches, pain, as well as problems with speech, swallowing, vision, and sleep. It also provides infusion therapy, rehabilitative assessments, and care for physical and cognitive impairments.

Earlier this year, the NMSS also recognized the MS center at Hackensack Meridian Jersey Shore University Medical Center as a Center for Comprehensive MS Care.

“In three short years we have expanded into a dynamic comprehensive Multiple Sclerosis Program which focuses on all the aspects of treating and managing multiple sclerosis,” said David Duncan, MD, program director of the Jersey Shore center.

The center is in the final stages of plans to add cognitive testing, as well as neuro-urology for faster evaluation of patient bladder complaints related to MS.

“I am proud that the MS Society recognized the significant benefit our Neuroscience Institute’s comprehensive strategy has for patients,” said Maria Coello, vice president of Care Transformation Services at Hackensack Meridian Health. “It is further recognition of our doctors, team members and staff’s commitment to allowing MS patients to live full and complete lives, by caring for the whole person, not just the neurological symptoms of the disease.”