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Allegheny Health Network Establishes Cahouet Center for Comprehensive Parkinson’s Care

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Allegheny Health Network (AHN) and the Parkinson Foundation Western Pennsylvania today announced the creation of a new center designed to help patients with Parkinson’s disease and their families more seamlessly access and coordinate the clinical and support services they require.

The Cahouet Center for Comprehensive Parkinson’s Care will uniquely combine AHN’s world-class medical expertise with the extensive resources of the Parkinson Foundation under one roof, creating a multi-disciplinary program that addresses the changing needs of Parkinson’s patients over time.

“A comprehensive approach to care goes beyond treating just the physical symptoms of Parkinson’s disease,” said Timothy Leichliter, MD, AHN neurologist, Parkinson’s specialist, and Medical Director of the Cahouet Center. “The creation of this center is a natural outgrowth of our longstanding collaborative relationship with the Parkinson Foundation Western Pennsylvania and our efforts to work ‘outside the box’ to improve our patient's quality of life.”

The Center is named for Frank Cahouet, retired chairman and chief executive of Mellon Financial Corp. Mr. Cahouet was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease last year and is cared for by a team of physicians at Allegheny General Hospital. Finding the ancillary services to meet all of his needs when diagnosed proved to be challenging, he said. Leaving his medical appointment with a list of different contacts to schedule physical therapy, speech therapy, support groups and home care was overwhelming.

“I thought ‘there must be a lot of people like me—people who know they have Parkinson’s, but don’t know what to do next.’ I wanted a comprehensive, well-coordinated care plan that would provide the best possible outcome for me over the long term,” Mr. Cahouet said. “That is the vision we have for this Center, and I’m honored to help bring it to life for those in our community who are living with Parkinson’s.”

The Cahouet Center will provide patients with a single point of contact to address any questions or concerns that may arise following diagnosis, along with individualized care plans and personalized follow-up care coordinated by the Parkinson Foundation.

A team of experienced professionals, including a movement disorders specialist, speech, occupational and physical therapists, psychologist, social worker, dietitian and exercise specialists, will be available to patients at the Center and will collaborate to create a comprehensive care plan for each patient and family. Foundation and Center staff will identify conveniently located health professionals and resources in the patient’s community to help execute the care plan and follow up with patients regularly to monitor their progress and assist with any challenges they may encounter.

“No two people who have Parkinson’s are alike, so it really does require an individualized care plan for patients to have the best chance of doing well,” said David Von  Hofen, MS, Cahouet Center Director and Parkinson Foundation Western Pennsylvania Program Director.

Developing a network of “Parkinson’s proficient” providers throughout western Pennsylvania is a key component of the Center’s mission, according to Barbara Farrell, Executive Director, Parkinson Foundation Western Pennsylvania.

“Our new hub in the Cahouet Center and our evolving network of community-based resources will help us to reach more individuals with Parkinson’s in a more meaningful way,” said Michael Wertz, President, Parkinson Foundation Western Pennsylvania Board of Directors. “We’re here to provide patients and their families with the personalized services they deserve.”

Parkinson disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer’s disease, affecting about one million people in the United States and more than four million worldwide. The disease is a progressive disorder that impacts the body’s ability to move. Symptoms may include resting tremor, bradykinesia (slowness of movement), rigidity and postural instability.

Under the direction of Donald Whiting, MD, Chair of AHN’s Neuroscience Institute and neurologist Susan Baser, MD, AHN has one of the most advanced movement disorders programs in the country. The Institute provides leading expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of Parkinson’s, offering innovative therapies that can safely reduce or eliminate symptoms of the disease.  AHN surgeons have successfully treated hundreds of patients with deep brain stimulation, a life-changing surgical procedure that involves implanting electrodes into the brain to regulate abnormal nerve impulses associated with Parkinson’s. The Institute’s experienced  team of caregivers provides personalized care planning that helps patients with Parkinson's  lead as active and healthy a life as possible.

Based at AHN’s professional building at 575 Lincoln Avenue in Bellevue, the new Cahouet Center provides on-site access to AHN’s neurologists, neurosurgeons and other clinicians with special expertise in treating Parkinson’s, as well as clinical research trials of new therapies being explored for the disease. The Center also will host support groups, exercise classes and educational programs conducted by the Parkinson Foundation.

The Parkinson Foundation will host an open house tomorrow, April 7, from 2 to 7 p.m. to showcase their new space at the Cahouet Center and observe Parkinson’s Awareness Month. The public is invited to meet the Foundation’s class instructors, learn about programming at the Center and enjoy light refreshments.

The services of the Cahouet Center are open to all patients and families, regardless of their healthcare coverage or insurance providers. Information on the Center and its programs can be obtained by calling, 844.5STOPPD (844.578.6773).

About the Parkinson Foundation Western Pennsylvania
Established in 1995, the Parkinson Foundation Western Pennsylvania is committed to providing services, support, and education for the estimated 10,000 people living with Parkinson’s disease in Western Pennsylvania and their families as well as supporting medical research to discover the cause and cure of PD.