New York—November 7, 2010
The benefits of collaborative, multidisciplinary care of patients with complex autoimmune diseases like lupus and multiple sclerosis are just beginning to be appreciated by physicians.
“Every time a patient comes in for an appointment, I am able to greet them personally, to find out what is going on in their lives and what may be bothering them that day,” said Pretima Persad, M.P.H., manager of the Mary Kirkland Center for Lupus Care. “We provide patients with care that is personalized to their particular situation, such as pregnancy or psychological concerns. We want them to know that their care team is really listening to them.”
In addition to check-ins with Ms. Persad before every appointment, patients meet with a nurse and a social worker at Hospital for Special Surgery. “Patients feel that they are being provided with an umbrella of care,” according to Dr. Doruk Erkan, co-director of the Mary Kirkland Center. “In this centralized environment, the patient is the number one focus. We are treating the patient as a whole, not just the disease.”
The physicians, nurses, social workers and research coordinators at the Mary Kirkland Center for Lupus Care at Hospital for Special Surgery know that treating patients with lupus requires the coordinated efforts of a number of health care professionals. “Each patient-care team member brings individual expertise but is aware that treatment of this chronic disease requires concurrent battle on multiple fronts,” said Dr. Kyriakos Kirou, co-director of the center. “They are trained to expect the unexpected and to support patients who may be confused and frightened.”
Lupus causes the immune system to attack the body’s own cells, resulting in inflammation and tissue damage. The disease is unpredictable and periods of illness follow periods of remission with barely a warning that skin, heart, joints, lungs or other parts of the body are being harmed. Nine out of ten patients with lupus are female and the disease can affect virtually any organ system in the body, including the nervous, circulatory and lymphatic systems.
The Mary Kirkland Center is an ideal place for research coordinators to recruit patients for clinical studies, Ms. Persad noted. She stressed that, while participating in research studies that place a focus on the disease can be daunting, the patients know and trust the staff well enough that they are comfortable getting involved.
The Mary Kirkland Center also instituted a formalized educational experience for professionals. Physicians attend lectures focused on lupus and related conditions so that they are able to understand “lupus from the perspective of other specialties,” according to Ms. Persad. Rheumatologists specializing in lupus care play an integral part in these lectures and in lupus case conferences.
One program that has benefitted from the multidisciplinary nature of the Center is the Cardiovascular Disease Prevention Counseling Program, available free-of-charge to all patients. Since lupus patients are at increased risk for cardiovascular events like heart attack and stroke, it is important to consistently monitor cardiovascular risk factors such as blood pressure. “Focusing on and addressing cardiovascular health and wellness makes a huge, positive impact in patients with lupus,” said Dr. Erkan. “We’re optimistic from our past successes that we can help push lupus symptoms into the background—literally and figuratively—when there are more pressing things on the minds of our patients.”
Other authors of the study from Hospital for Special Surgery include Suzy Kim, LCSW; Monica Richey, MSN, ANP-BC/GNP, and Jane E. Salmon, M.D.
For more information on the Mary Kirkland Center for Lupus Care, please visit poster #2077 at the 74th Annual Meeting of the American College of Rheumatology in Atlanta (“The Mary Kirkland Center for Lupus Care (MKCLC): A Multi-Disciplinary Specialized Disease Center”) on Wednesday, Nov. 10 from 9 a.m. – 11 a.m., in Halls B1 & B2.
About HSS | Hospital for Special Surgery
HSS is the world’s leading academic medical center focused on musculoskeletal health. At its core is Hospital for Special Surgery, nationally ranked No. 1 in orthopedics (for the eighth consecutive year) and No. 3 in rheumatology by U.S. News & World Report (2017-2018). Founded in 1863, the Hospital has one of the lowest infection rates in the country and was the first in New York State to receive Magnet Recognition for Excellence in Nursing Service from the American Nurses Credentialing Center four consecutive times. An affiliate of Weill Cornell Medical College, HSS has a main campus in New York City and facilities in New Jersey, Connecticut and in the Long Island and Westchester County regions of New York State. In 2017 HSS provided care to 135,000 patients from 80 countries and performed more than 32,000 surgical procedures. In addition to patient care, HSS leads the field in research, innovation and education. The HSS Research Institute comprises 20 laboratories and 300 staff members focused on leading the advancement of musculoskeletal health through prevention of degeneration, tissue repair and tissue regeneration. The HSS Innovation Institute was formed in 2015 to realize the potential of new drugs, therapeutics and devices; the global standard total knee replacement was developed at HSS in 1969, and in 2017 HSS made 130 invention submissions (more than 2x the submissions in 2015). The HSS Education Institute provides continuing medical curriculum to more than 15,000 subscribing musculoskeletal healthcare professionals in 110 countries. Through HSS Global, the institution is collaborating with medical centers worldwide to advance the quality and value of care and to make world-class HSS care more accessible to more people.