|(L-R) Dr. Peter Gillette, Kings County Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center; HHC Board Member Josephine Bolus; Kings County Medical Director Dr. Kathie Rones; Edolphus "Ed" Towns, U.S. House of Representatives; Dr. The Hon. Una Clarke, C.D., D. Litt.; HHC President Alan Aviles; Central Brooklyn Snr. VP Jean G. Leon; Hon. Yvette D. Clarke, Councilwoman; Yvonne Graham, Brooklyn Deputy Borough President
Jason didn’t know he had Parkinson’s disease (PD). In his sixties, he was just stiff. He had no shaking hands or poor balance, well-known symptoms of the disease. But after he was referred to one of HHC’s PD Care Centers, it didn’t take Dr. Laura Boylan long to identify the cause of the symptoms.
“This man had gone for years without being diagnosed,” said Dr. Boylan, Director of the Bellevue Center for Parkinson and Related Movement Disorders. “In fact, we believe there are many people who aren’t diagnosed who could benefit from treatment.”
A grant for $128,000 from the National Parkinson Foundation helped to create the clinic which houses services like neurology and social services under one roof and eliminates the need for patients to travel to different departments in the hospital.
Using physical and occupational therapy, as well as medication, Dr. Boylan got Jason more functional and active. Educating him about the disease - a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system – was also important since he learned that stiffness is a major sign of PD.
Dr. Boylan is one of various HHC medical experts who have helped to develop nationally recognized treatment programs for Parkinson's Disease and Sickle Cell Anemia, two unrelated conditions that together impact some 1.6 million Americans.
Doctors at Elmhurst, Harlem and Kings County Hospital Centers are leading Centers of Excellence for the treatment of sickle cell anemia, a genetic disorder that causes crescent-shaped red blood cells to lodge in blood vessels, limiting oxygen to body tissue and leading to infection, organ damage or stroke.
Studies suggest the genetic trait in sickle cell anemia protects its carriers against malaria, and occurs more commonly in people of sub-Saharan African descent, where malaria is or was common, as well as people of Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and Indian descent.
Harlem Hospital’s Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center was first opened in 1968 by the late Dr. Jeanne Smith, an internationally renowned sickle cell anemia expert whose work helped establish federal policy in testing and treating the disease.
The Sickle Cell Anemia Center at Kings County Hospital Center, one of the oldest sickle cell programs in the nation, features a clinic and in 2004 opened a day hospital service, which allows patients to receive needed treatment without leaving the support of their community.
Thanks to these and other HHC Centers of Excellence, a host of specialty services are available to treat patients’ most serious health problems, including asthma, diabetes, cancer, stroke and heart disease. For more information about HHC's Centers of Excellence and Specialty Services, visit nyc.gov/hhc.