Swedish Set to Open State-of-the-Art Multiple Sclerosis Center; New Facility Has Been Under Developm

Swedish Set to Open State-of-the-Art Multiple Sclerosis Center; New Facility Has Been Under Development for Several Years and Largely Funded Through Philanthropy

SEATTLE – April 6, 2012 – Swedish Neuroscience Institute (SNI) is set to open its new MS Center at Swedish to patients. Carefully designed for easy accessibility and to promote the well-being of people with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), the new 11,700-square-foot center gives SNI the ability to consolidate all of its MS services into one facility. An additional 1,500-square-feet of outside therapy terrace will provide a safe environment for patients to work with a therapist on improving their gait over different terrain.

The new center also enables scientists, researchers, physicians and patients to work collaboratively toward new treatment options for those diagnosed with MS. In a move that further establishes Swedish’s neuroscience program as a leader in the region, the MS Center at Swedish is the largest, most comprehensive facility of its kind on the West Coast and one of only a handful in the country.

The new center will give people with MS and their families easy access to a unique, multidisciplinary team of skilled neurologists and a specialized nursing staff to deliver the highest quality of coordinated care, new treatments and a variety of wellness options. The full team includes neurologists; neuro-ophthalmologists; physiatrists; social workers; a psychologist; a speech therapist; vocational, physical, occupational and cognitive rehabilitation therapists; as well as others who specialize in treating, educating and supporting people with MS. All of these caregivers are committed to a comprehensive approach to MS care that treats the whole person and addresses each patient’s emotional, psychological, social and physical needs in a supportive environment.

The National MS Society’s Northwest Chapter says more than 12,000 people in Washington state, Montana and Alaska have the disease. Approximately 9,500 of those cases are in Washington state, one of the highest incident rates in the country.

“The Pacific Northwest region has been disproportionately affected by MS, and researchers still don’t know why,” said Marc Mayberg, M.D., chief medical director of the Swedish Neuroscience Institute. “We hope our targeted focus on MS helps provide answers for the many patients in our community who are battling this disease.”

Currently, patients in the Pacific Northwest have to go to multiple locations to receive care. The new center will consolidate Swedish’s existing treatments and research, as well as physical therapy and gym space filled with equipment designed for the needs of people with MS, including physical and rehabilitative therapy programs. The location and layout of the clinic is designed to provide people with MS easy access to the center.

The center will also offer yoga classes and access to social workers, vocational counselors, individual and family support groups, rehab therapists and many educational resources, all within a supportive environment.

“A center like this has been a dream for people with MS and medical community for more than 15 years,” said neurologist Jim Bowen, M.D., medical director of the new MS Center at Swedish. “This center is the result of a shared effort between Swedish and the patient community that has been pushing for this kind of resource.”

Despite scientific research, physicians still do not know why MS disproportionately affects more people in the Northwest region than anywhere else in the country. While the past 20 years has seen great improvements in the diagnosis and treatment of the disease, MS remains a chronic, disabling, autoimmune disease which attacks the central nervous system and cannot be cured at this time. New treatments, however, can improve symptoms and quality of life for patients. Effective treatments can decrease pain, stiffness, tremor, fatigue and improve bladder/bowel functions. New medications can relieve symptoms and improve nervous-system functioning.

Swedish physicians are participating in more than 24 ongoing research studies. The new center will allow Swedish to grow their research and improve quality of life for people diagnosed with MS. The
research support infrastructure in the new MS Center at Swedish will be significantly expanded.

“Our vision for the MS Center is to help patients achieve their highest level of well-being,” said Dr. Bowen. “The research studies we lead or participate in should help us do just that.”

Working with global architecture and design firm Callison, the team utilized the tenets of evidence-based design and research on wellness and effects of the built environment. The clinic is designed through the evidence-based filters such as choice, social support, positive distraction, access to nature and lack of environmental stressors. Evaluating the common physical conditions that people with MS face, the physical environment is designed to incorporate specific finishes and design features that enable people with MS to engage the space more easily. For example, the center’s Living Wall is a testament to this type of approach in design, insuring intuitive way finding as well as contributing to well-being and improved indoor air quality.

As a non-profit organization, Swedish is looking to the community to help build the $7.8 million facility. So far, the MS Center at Swedish has been largely funded with gifts from the philanthropic community. To date, Swedish Foundation has received more than $2.1 million toward the cost of the center. Nine families in the Seattle area contributed. That list includes Richard and Betty Hedreen and Jim and Gaye Pigott, who have collectively donated $1 million to the new center. Another set of donors made pledges of $100,000 or more. Proceeds from Celebrate Swedish, the medical center’s fund-raising auction on May 12, will help close the gap for additional funds needed for the new center.

In 2004, Swedish established the Swedish Neuroscience Institute (SNI). Since its inception, more than 60 leading neurosurgeons, neurologists and other specialists have been recruited to build a world-class neuroscience program dedicated to the treatment and study of the full spectrum of neurological disorders, including MS.

For more information about the MS Center at Swedish or new SNI initiatives, visit www.swedish.org/neuroscience. To make a contribution, contact Kate Purcell in the Swedish Foundation at kate.purcell@swedish.org or 206-386-3194.

About the MS Center at Swedish

Opening April 9, 2012, the MS Center at Swedish gives patients and families access to a unique multidisciplinary team of skilled medical professionals dedicated solely to the disease. The new, 11,700-square-foot center – with an additional 1,500 square feet of outdoor space – will provide not only the latest medical treatments to alleviate symptoms, but also physical, occupational and speech therapies, cognitive rehabilitation, nutritional consultation, ophthalmologic and urologic services. The center will include comprehensive wellness services as well as a variety of exercise programs offered in a gym filled with equipment to specifically meet the needs of MS patients. The center will also include yoga classes, social workers, vocational counselors, individual and family support groups, rehab therapists and many educational resources all within a supportive environment.

About Swedish

Swedish has grown over the last 102 years to become the largest non-profit health provider in the Greater Seattle area with 11,000 employees, more than 2,800 physicians and 1,700 volunteers. It is comprised of five hospital campuses (First Hill, Cherry Hill, Ballard, Edmonds and Issaquah); ambulatory care centers in Redmond and Mill Creek; and Swedish Medical Group – a network of more than 100 primary-care and specialty clinics located throughout the Greater Puget Sound area. In addition to general medical and surgical care including robotic-assisted surgery, Swedish is known as a regional referral center, providing specialized treatment in areas such as cardiovascular care, cancer care, neuroscience, orthopedics, high-risk obstetrics, pediatric specialties, organ transplantation and clinical research. For more information, visit www.swedish.org, www.swedishcares.org, www.facebook.com/swedishmedicalcenter, or www.twitter.com/swedish.  

Swedish is affiliated with Providence Health & Services, which is a Catholic, not-for-profit organization founded by the Sisters of Providence in 1856 with 27 hospitals, 214 physician clinics and almost 53,000 employees across five states. Based in Renton, Wash., Providence Health & Services provides strategic and management services to integrated health-care systems in Alaska, California, Montana, Oregon and Washington state. For more information, visit www.providence.org.

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Media Coverage

  • To watch a related story that KOMO Television (Channel 4, ABC) aired on April 6, 2012, click here.
  • To read a related article posted April 9, 2012 on Seattle/LocalHealthGuide.com, click here.
  • To read a related article posted April 18, 2012 on the Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce web site, click here.
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