National Multiple Sclerosis Society lauds UCI Health program

Designation as Center for MS Comprehensive Care puts it among elite

November 29, 2011
Dr. Michael Demetriou

After a thorough review, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society has recognized the UCI Health multiple sclerosis program for superior and innovative patient care by certifying it as an official Center for MS Comprehensive Care.

The Multiple Sclerosis Program, which is based on the Irvine campus in the Gottschalk Medical Plaza, is one of only three in California to have earned this designation. At 10:30 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 1, Richard Israel, president of the National MS Society’s Pacific South Coast Chapter, will present a plaque denoting the certification to program director Dr. Michael Demetriou.

In 2009, UC Irvine received a collaborative MS research center award from the National MS Society, making it among the few institutions in the U.S. to be honored by the organization for both research and patient care excellence.

“This certification recognizes UC Irvine’s historical significance and innovative approaches to MS care, which is centered on always keeping the patient’s needs foremost in our minds,” said Demetriou, an associate professor of neurology. “This requires a team effort by staff, nurses and physicians and is best exemplified by outstanding and compassionate care.”

UC Irvine’s MS program—one of the country’s earliest and most successful—was founded by Dr. Stanley van den Noort, a towering presence in neurology and former dean of the UC Irvine School of Medicine whose tireless efforts brought tremendous relief to many. He was the first chief medical officer of the National MS Society, and his influence on patient care practices is still felt today.

The National MS Society began its clinical affiliation/certification program, which focuses on the patient experience, in October 2009 and today has 45 comprehensive care centers across the nation. Programs winning certification must offer patients access to a full array of medical, psychosocial and rehabilitation services to address the varied and often complex issues related to living with MS. They also must demonstrate the ability to provide coordinated and comprehensive MS care and maintain a strong collaboration with the National MS Society.

“UC Irvine has a long and rich history as a center for MS care and research excellence,” said Demetriou, whose recent studies have found that a glucosamine-like sugar may limit MS attacks by restoring a cellular deficiency that causes the disease. “The Center for MS Comprehensive Care will help us further assess this dietary supplement as an MS therapy.”

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