“We’re able to provide comprehensive care and change health outcomes for people with disabilities,” said Independence Care System (ICS) Senior Vice President of Clinical Programs and Population Health Rachael Stacom. She was talking about the collaborative partnership among ICS, BronxCare Health System, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and MS Hope for a Cure in support of providing services for Bronx residents with multiple sclerosis (MS).
“It’s a beautiful partnership,” Stacom said. “I feel lucky to be a part of it.”
Stacom, leaders from the MS Society and ICS staff joined BronxCare administrative, medical, and nursing staff during a special ceremony on August 8 at the hospital’s health and wellness center auditorium, where the MS Society designated BronxCare’s Multiple Sclerosis Center a National MS Comprehensive Care Center.
BronxCare is the only medical provider in the Bronx to earn this designation. As the largest voluntary, non-profit health and teaching hospital system serving the South and Central Bronx, BronxCare is also one of the largest providers of outpatient services in New York City, with close to a million visits annually. The MS Center, which sees about 500 patients annually, serves a diverse and medically underserved population, helping people with MS remain healthy and independent.
Stacom—who created ICS’ MS program, which has been designated an MS Society Partner in Care—is an MS-certified nurse practitioner who works with Bronxcare’s MS Center. She discussed how ICS’ mission of ensuring that people with physical disabilities are able to live independently at home, in their communities aligns with BronxCare’s mission of supporting people with MS. After reviewing data internally in 2005, Stacom and ICS leaders learned that complications including urinary tract infections, pneumonia, and wound infections led to ICS members being hospitalized. The ICS team set out to address those risks through expert intervention focused on prevention.
“We know homecare really well, so we said, ‘Let’s make sure ICS members and their aides know how to manage these conditions,’” Stacom said. “We went to the MS Society and asked ‘Who are the people you know that care for our patients?’ They introduced us to BronxCare Chief of Neurology Dr. Rene Elkin and we saw her dedication to serve the underserved, to level the playing field, as all of you do every day.”
Dr. Elkin—who also directs the hospital’s MS Center—noted that the partnership among organizations has allowed people with MS in the community to receive much-needed support, while leaders continue to focus on comprehensive services for the future.
“Working with the MS Society, ICS and MS Hope for a Cure, as well as the hospital administration, has enabled me to lead the MS clinic and provide comprehensive care for almost 500 people who are living in the Bronx with MS,” she said. “Our patients have unique and enormous barriers to accessing healthcare. Our continuing designation by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society is a further validation of the expert, highly individualized, person-centered and result oriented services we provide for MS patients.”
Last year alone, the MS Society—which mobilizes people and resources so that people affected by MS can live their best lives—devoted more than $122 million to connect more than a million individuals to people, information and resources they need. At the August 8 ceremony, MS Society Director for Healthcare Provider Engagement Andrea Arzt, lauded BronxCare for its demonstrated leadership in MS care and its commitment to addressing the ongoing needs of people with MS.
“Our collaboration with the BronxCare MS Center is very important to us and we are proud to partner with them, along with MS Hope for a Cure, as the Center provides valuable comprehensive care to their patients,” Arzt said. “This designation represents the imperative of the National MS Society to increase access to expert and comprehensive MS care to every person living with MS—no matter where they live or their circumstance.”
Stacom echoed those sentiments, and said that the continuing goal is to work together to ensure for the support of people with MS as they navigate the disease, while providing them crucial, quality care.
“Care coordination and support of care coordination are important,” she said. “We want to help people and serve the underserved.”
To view News 12 The Bronx’s coverage of the designation, visit bit.ly/2YGgl49