Local Clinics Make a Difference
These clinics also serve as sites for clinical trials of the latest experimental therapies and drugs.
"They said I had carpal tunnel in both hands. That went on for a while. And then they said I had myasthenia gravis and they put me on medication. It wasn't working," patient Harold Spencer said.
Surgery and treatments being ineffective, Harold and and his wife Alice Spencer consulted a specialist in St. Louis. In May 2007, they were given the diagnosis that explained his symptoms. He had Lou Gehrig's disease: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
"ALS is a unique condition, as opposed to many of the diseases that we deal with. It progresses fairly rapidly. And once we diagnose a patient, usually they won't survive longer than 3 to 5 years after the diagnosis. So, we put in all the effort in improving the quality of their life and treat their symptoms," neurologist Dr. Upinder Dhand said.
At first glance, the MDA clinic at the Rusk Rehabilitation Center in Columbia could be any health care provider. But as the Spencers and their children, Hunter and McKenzie, quickly discovered, an MDA clinic serves more than just the needs of the body. It also offers peace of mind.
"What MDA does for them, over and above helping coordinate things, is that if their insurance does not cover it, MDA will cover it," Dr. Dhand explained.
It's not possible to overstate the value of that level of support, especially the blessing of having this remarkable clinic right in your own backyard.
"Having it close, this close, has been a God-send, because I'm working. We've been able to come up and they've set up appointments where everything is right at the same time together. MDA has been fabulous through the whole thing," Alice Spencer said.
"It's real important. Everybody's been real nice and we've got specialists here and we don't have the drive time. It's easy access," Harold Spencer said.
If it weren't for the MDA clinic at the Rusk Rehabilitation Center, patients would have to travel to St. Louis or Kansas City on a regular basis for treatment and doctor's appointments.
The 42nd Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon starts Sunday night at 11:00 p.m. It runs until 5:30 p.m. Monday evening. KOMU will broadcast its part of the telethon from Bass Pro Sportsman Center in Columbia.