Dee Norris, Maureen and Craig Sullivan Team Up for ALS
(L-R) Dee Norris, advisory director of the Forbes Norris MDA/ALS Research and Treatment Center; Maureen and Craig Sullivan; Robert Miller, M.D., the Center's program director
Donors Double Their Impact with Matching Gifts for ALS
CPMC is home to one of the largest ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) clinics in the country, the Forbes Norris MDA/ALS Research and Treatment Center. But Craig and Maureen Sullivan really didn’t know much about it until they recently made a generous five-year, unrestricted gift to CPMC Foundation.
When David Madson, the foundation’s Director of Development, Neurosciences, learned of their donation, he saw an opportunity that was too good to pass up. He knew that Dee Norris, R.N., the Center’s advisory director, had funds she intended to donate through her own ALS Research Foundation. He made her aware of the Sullivans’ gift and asked if she would be willing to match it. If so, Madson said he would approach the Sullivans about directing their donation to the Norris Center. “It sounded like a win-win situation to me, so I agreed,” says Mrs. Norris.
When the Sullivans heard about the opportunity, they didn’t take long to decide either. “ALS is a terrible disease,” says Mr. Sullivan. “I had a very close friend of mine whose wife died from it and a former work colleague of mine also had it, so I’ve seen it up close. It’s one of those things we all dread facing and it’s hard not to give to it. Plus, with someone else matching your donation, you can make your money work harder, so it was an easy decision.”
A National Reputation of Excellence
The center is named after a long-time CPMC physician, the late Forbes Norris, M.D., who was married to Mrs. Norris until he passed away in 1993. A pioneer in ALS treatment and research, Dr. Norris developed many techniques that are now accepted by the American Academy of Neurology as standards of care for ALS patients including the use of a multi-disciplinary team to deliver care.
This approach features neurologists, nurse case managers, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech and language pathologists, respiratory therapists, social workers, neuropsychologists, orthotists, nutritionists and others all working together on the patient’s behalf. “It’s a proven, effective style of treatment,” says the Center’s program director, Robert Miller, M.D. “Evidence from three different studies has shown that people who receive care for ALS in a multi-disciplinary clinic live longer and have a higher quality of life.”
Dr. Miller says that research is another important aspect of the Norris Center and it is a magnet that draws patients to CPMC. “We are testing more new therapies than any other facility in the country, so people want a piece of that action,” he says. “But once they are here, they quickly realize the standard of care is also something very special.”
Philanthropy Makes the Difference
And what is it that allows the center to deliver such extraordinary care? “Philanthropy,” says Mrs. Norris quite pointedly. “If a patient’s insurance doesn’t pay for everything, we cover it through philanthropy. In fact, about 30% of our budget comes from the contributions of grateful patients and donors.”
Which brings us back to the reason why the Sullivans give to CPMC: “We’re all going to need health care at some point in our lives,” says Mr. Sullivan. “And even if you go there for something as simple as an X-ray, everyone is very positive, upbeat and friendly. So why wouldn’t you support an organization that has proven it can do such a great job taking of care you?”
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