Newswise — New Brunswick, NJ — July marks 75 years since the farewell speech of the baseball legend whose diagnosis and subsequent death gave amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) its more commonly known name—Lou Gehrig’s disease. The cause and ultimate cure of this devastating condition remain unknown.
But multidisciplinary programs like the Neuromuscular and ALS Center of New Jersey continue to provide evidenced-based, best-practice patient care, work toward more effective drug treatments, and provide education and support for patients with ALS and their families. In national recognition of the center’s outstanding care and services, the ALS Association has recertified it as a Certified Treatment Center of Excellence for ALS.
A joint program of Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School’s Department of Neurology and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, the Neuromuscular and ALS Center has been designated as a nationally certified center since the early days of the recognition program. Today it is the only Certified Treatment Center of Excellence in New Jersey and one of just 34 in the United States.
“We are very excited and proud to be nationally recognized for our many years of hard work in managing ALS patients,” says Dr. Jerry Belsh, professor of neurology and director of the Neuromuscular and ALS Center. “People often travel great distances to come to us for a crucial diagnosis, and later they follow up with our multidisciplinary team because of each team member’s expertise and compassionate care. It has been a privilege to partner with the ALS Association and the Greater New York Chapter in their mission to provide people with ALS the highest quality of care and support.”
ALS is a progressive disease of the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. As the motor neurons are affected, gradual weakness, atrophy, and paralysis of skeletal muscles occur, affecting the muscles that control walking, arm movements, speech, swallowing, and breathing. The ALS Association estimates that as many as 30,000 Americans have ALS at any given time; every 90 minutes, an American dies from the disease. Approximately 5,600 people in the United States are diagnosed with ALS each year—an average of 15 new cases a day.
In hopes of supporting a national standard of best-practice care for patients with ALS through a distinguished network of clinical settings, The ALS Association initiated its Certified Center Program more than 20 years ago and created the new designation of Certified Treatment Center of Excellence in 2013. To receive this designation, centers must achieve national prominence, meet rigorous patient care standards, and pass a comprehensive site inspection. Required program components include a multidisciplinary team of nursing and allied health professionals, a neurologist who specializes in the treatment of individuals living with ALS, active ALS research, ongoing process-improvement initiatives, and a strong relationship with the local ALS Association chapter.
Recertification as a Treatment Center of Excellence includes a stipend from the national association, as well as annual financial and patient services support from the association’s Greater New York Chapter.
“We are so proud of the longstanding commitment we have together to provide excellent care and supportive services to people with ALS in our community,” says Dorine Gordon, president and CEO, The ALS Association Greater New York Chapter, who in June presented the center’s leadership team with a plaque commemorating the recertification milestone. “Our organizations have worked closely together for well over 15 years, and we look forward to continuing this strong partnership for the benefit of individuals with ALS.”
Additional information about the Neuromuscular and ALS Center of New Jersey is available by calling 732-235-7331.
About Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
As one of the nation's leading comprehensive medical schools, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School is dedicated to the pursuit of excellence in education, research, health care delivery, and the promotion of community health. Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, the medical school's principal affiliate, comprise one of the nation's premier academic medical centers. In addition, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School has 34 other hospital affiliates and ambulatory care sites throughout the region.
Part of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School encompasses 20 basic science and clinical departments, hosts centers and institutes including The Cardiovascular Institute, the Child Health Institute of New Jersey, the Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine, the Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute, and the Stem Cell Institute of New Jersey. The medical school maintains educational programs at the undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate levels on its campuses in New Brunswick and Piscataway and provides continuing education courses for health care professionals and community education programs. To learn more about Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, visit rwjms.rutgers.edu or interact via social media at www.facebook.com/RWJMedicalSchool and www.twitter.com/RWJMS.
About Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital
Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH) is a 965-bed hospital with campuses in New Brunswick and Somerville, offering Central New Jersey residents expanded access to the highest quality medical services and a wider array of innovative therapies available at only a small number of elite academic medical centers nationwide. RWJUH’s New Brunswick and Somerset campuses now serve as the flagship hospital of Robert Wood Johnson Health System, New Jersey’s premier health system of choice, which currently has $1.5 billion in revenue, approximately 10,300 employees, 3,250 medical staff members, and 1,733 beds.
RWJUH New Brunswick is the flagship Cancer Hospital of Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and the principal hospital of Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. Its Centers of Excellence include cardiovascular care, from minimally invasive heart surgery to transplantation; cancer care; and women’s and children’s care, including The Bristol-Myers Squibb Children’s Hospital at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. The hospital is also a Level 1 Trauma Center and serves as a national resource in its groundbreaking approaches to emergency preparedness. RWJUH Somerset provides comprehensive health care services to residents throughout Central New Jersey. Its Steeplechase Cancer Center is designated as a Comprehensive Community Cancer Center by the American College of Surgeons’ Commission on Cancer, it is a Joint Commission- and state-designated Primary Stroke Center, and The Joint Surgery Institute at RWJUH Somerset has earned the Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval for total knee and total hip replacement surgery. Additional information is available at www.rwjuh.edu.