Kentuckians take pride in hosting one of the world’s top sporting events every May. Unfortunately, our state is also famous for a wide range of lifestyle-related health problems: We smoke, drink and eat too much, resulting in greater risk of stroke and blockages in the circulatory system. One in three Americans, including 1.7 million residents of Kentucky and Southern Indiana, are affected by a neurological disorder at some point in their lives.
On the positive side, we have Norton Neuroscience Institute (NNI), which was established in early 2009 and has already become the region’s leading provider of neurological care. Its team of specialists is dedicated to providing patients and their families with advanced treatment for complex neurological disorders through areas of expertise such as stroke care, brain tumor treatment, spine care, movement disorders (such as epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease), headaches and concussion treatment, pediatrics, trauma and injury.
“Everybody talks about the baby boomers and the need for orthopedics. Well, as people grow older, they have neurological issues as well,” said Chief Executive Doug Winkelhake, who is also president of NNI’s adult services division. “If you don’t get blood to the brain because of poor health, lack of exercise, poor eating habits or smoking, those conditions can play a large part. People in the neurosciences like to say that the heart is just a pump for the brain.”
In the past, patients needing treatment for many kinds of neurological illnesses and injuries had to travel to Nashville, Cleveland or other cities renowned for specialized clinics. NNI, whose physicians and related health care providers work at five Norton Healthcare facilities (Norton Hospital, Norton Brownsboro Hospital, Norton Audubon Hospital, Norton Suburban Hospital and Kosair Children’s Hospital) has made a commitment of up to $100 million over ten years to provide and expand world-class services right here.
Meeting that goal requires recruiting specialists and subspecialists, as well as educating and training additional physicians who are skilled in the latest treatments for bleeding in the brain, epilepsy, stroke or even a cyst that is pressing on a nerve.
“It’s unusual for a city this size to have two highly trained endovascular cranial neurosurgeons working together, but we do – Shervin R. Dashti, M.D. and Tom L. Yao, M.D.,” Doug said. “Instead of taking out large parts of the skull in order to gain access to certain areas, they can treat now through a small incision in the groin. I’ve watched what they do in the operating room, and it’s amazing, every day.”
The institute’s multi-disciplinary approach to medical care may require, depending on the illness or injury, specialists in fields such as neuropsychology, physiatry or psychiatry.
“There is also a great deal of beneficial collaboration among medical colleagues at other facilities – the Norton Cancer Institute, for example; and the University of Kentucky, which has a very good program for A.L.S., Lou Gehrig’s disease,” Doug said. “We are very glad to be involved with the University of Louisville, and with the Norton Leatherman Spine Center.”
NNI’s physician-recruitment efforts recently led to the addition of Angela M. Hardwick, M.D., a fellowship-trained movement disorder neurologist. Skilled in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders such as Huntington’s and Parkinson’s, she evaluates whether a patient can be treated with medication or requires surgery.
By making such giant strides, all of NNI’s adult facilities have already gained accreditation as primary stroke centers by The Joint Commission on accreditation of health care organizations.
“We’re not done yet. We are making progress in some very difficult fields, looking at continued growth, and trying to attract more physicians and help more patients,” Doug said. “We want to expand the amounts of clinical research we’re doing and keep extending the services we provide throughout the community.”
Those services include informative presentations at various locations; free classes about headaches, for example, are scheduled for Sept. 6 and Oct. 11 (phone 502.629.1234 to register). NNI patients can access a section of their medical records online, thanks to the electronic medical records system used by participating physicians.
“There are still gaps we want to fill, and programs to bring in,” Doug said. “But to see an institute that began just three years ago already become as comprehensive as this one is – that’s pretty remarkable for this community.”
For more information about Norton Neuroscience Institute, phone 502.629.8000 or visit www.nortonhealthcare.com/nni.