ETSU ALS clinic receives $75K grant to expand free care services

Clinic is only one in Tennessee to offer free multidisciplinary care

Andrea Lobo, PhD avatar

by Andrea Lobo, PhD |

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The Gary E. Shealy Memorial ALS Clinic in Tennessee has received a $75,000 grant from the ALS Association to support expanding its clinical care services for people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

The clinic at East Tennessee State University (ETSU) Health is the only one in the state that offers free multidisciplinary care to ALS patients. Established in partnership with the ALS Association, it relies on voluntary work from different specialty clinicians, serving nearly 100 patients across thousands of visits.

The award, which coincided the clinic’s seventh anniversary, should help expand services to a full day, increase telehealth availability, help it acquire equipment to loan to patients, and continue educating care providers.

“This funding will go a long way in ensuring we are able to keep up with the increasing demand for services,” Courtney Andrews, professor and clinic coordinator at ETSU Health, said in a university press release. “These services are critically needed in our area and we are committed to doing everything we can to improve the quality of life for those living with ALS in our region.”

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Enjoying my memory scrapbook of visits to ALS clinics

How ETSU Health’s ALS Clinic began

ETSU Health’s ALS Clinic was established in 2017 with a donation by Faith Akin, PhD, an audiologist at James H. Quillen VA Medical Center, after her husband, Gary E. Shealy, died from ALS in 2016.

Akin said she and her husband had to travel far to other universities to access an ALS clinic, just like other affected families in the region, making a local clinic where patients had access to specialized care urgently needed.

Akin expects the new clinic at ETSU would help reduce the burden on ALS patients and their families by providing coordinated care from several clinicians in one visit, instead of having to make multiple trips to different specialists.

The clinic is based on a multidisciplinary model to offer services from a number of specialists, including a neurologist, a nurse, and physical, occupational, respiratory, and speech-language therapists. It also offers services from a dietitian, a pharmacist, a social worker, an assistive technology professional, and an ALS Association representative.

The clinic is open to everyone with an ALS diagnosis every third Friday of the month from 12 to 4:30 p.m. For appointments, patients or caregivers can contact Andrews by phone at 423-439-4712, by fax at 423-439-4607, or by email at [email protected].

Because an ALS diagnosis is often made by excluding a number of other diseases, it offers a second opinion through a partnership with Randy Trudell, MD, whose main office is in Knoxville.

“The Gary E. Shealy Memorial ALS Clinic is a critical lifeline for those in our region seeking care for ALS, and we are incredibly proud to celebrate seven years of care with the support of the ALS Association,” Andrews said.