Generous Donation Establishes First-of-its-Kind Program for Multiple Sclerosis Patients in Honor of Gloria Estefan’s Late Father
The Mellen Program for MS at the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health will soon be expanding its patient services thanks to a generous donation from Gloria and Emilio Estefan. The gift will establish the Major José M. Fajardo Patient Services Program, a first-of-its-kind program dedicated to coordinating and facilitating the unique quality-of-life and social service needs of multiple sclerosis (MS) patients.
The program honors Gloria Estefan’s father, the late Major José M. Fajardo, who suffered from a disabling neurological disease diagnosed to be MS, which stemmed from his time as a soldier in the Vietnam War. As one of her father’s primary caregivers at the end of his life, Estefan uniquely understands the need for a comprehensive approach to MS treatment, one that goes beyond traditional medical care and focuses on ensuring patients and their families have the support they need to fight this battle most effectively.
“What happens with a degenerative brain disease is very difficult for the patient and for the family taking care of them. During my father’s illness, I put on a brave face, but it was very, very tough on me and my family. Had I had the type of help and support that this patient service program provides, it would’ve been a lot easier,” said Mrs. Estefan. “Because of my personal experience in dealing with MS, it was truly important for Emilio and I to be a part of this. Patients and their families that come to the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health will get the help they need; and for me, that is the most important aspect in creating this program.”
A key element of the Fajardo Patient Services Program is a dedicated patient services coordinator, who will act as a type of concierge for patients in need of home services, referrals to clinical trials, connections to community resources, transportation needs, and medical appointment coordination. For example, a significant portion of MS patients have transportation challenges, which leads to not only missed physician appointments, but also missed opportunities for physical and occupational therapy and counseling services. According to a report published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, 45 percent of MS patients do not receive community services other than contact with their general practitioner and 39 percent of those with moderate and 12 percent with severe disability failed to receive community services.
“By establishing this program in memory of Gloria’s father, the Estefans have given a truly transformational gift to MS patients in Nevada, one that will have a lasting impact both on them and on their families,” said Dr. Jeffrey Cummings, director of the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. “The Fajardo Patient Services Program will give our MS patients a functional model of medicine by providing a comprehensive approach to their care that addresses both their medical and their quality-of-life needs.”
A recipient of seven Grammys™ and more than 100-million albums sold worldwide, Gloria has achieved renowned accolades including a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the Las Vegas Walk of Fame, the Ellis Island Congressional Medal of Honor and the National Music Foundation’s Humanitarian of the Year award. She was honored with the American Music Award for Lifetime Achievement and is recognized by Billboard magazine as the single most successful cross-over artist of all-time.
Emilio has been instrumental in shaping, developing and directing the careers of his superstar wife, Gloria, as well as Jennifer Lopez, Jon Secada, Marc Anthony, Ricky Martin and Shakira, among many others. His résumé includes a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Las Vegas Walk of Fame, induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and 19 Grammy Awards.
Gloria and Emilio Estefan have achieved incredible success throughout their careers, boasting more than 30 years of industry-leading achievements.Earlier in 2014, they were honored at Keep Memory Alive’s annual “Power of Love Gala,” which was a fundraiser for Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health.
“Gloria and Emilio are incredible individuals who give generously of their time and talents to many important causes, and we are fortunate to have them in our Keep Memory Alive family,” said Larry Ruvo, Chairman & Founder, Keep Memory Alive. “Gloria and I both have a need to help patients affected by the terrible diseases that took our fathers’ lives, and this common bond has truly made designing and establishing this program with her and Emilio very special and personal for me.”
One of the most common neurological disorders of young adults, MS affects an estimated 400,000 patients in the United States and between 2,500 and 4,000 in Southern Nevada alone. Prior to the establishment of the MS program at Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, the Las Vegas community lacked a neurologist who specialized in MS, requiring patients to travel out of state to receive treatment for their symptoms. When the Fajardo Patient Services Program launches in late 2014, Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center will be the only MS center in the nation to provide this level of support to their patients, making the Fajardo Patient Services Program a worldwide model for best practices in MS care.
For additional information about the MS program and Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, visit http://www.clevelandclinic.org/brainhealth.
About Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health
Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health provides state-of-the-art care for cognitive disorders and for the family members of those who suffer from them. The physicians and staff at the Center for Brain Health continuously work toward the development of early diagnosis and the advancement of knowledge concerning treatment of cognitive disorders, which could one day delay or prevent their onset. Patients receive expert diagnosis and treatment at the Center for Brain Health, which offers a multidisciplinary patient-focused approach to diagnosis and treatment, promoting collaboration across all care providers, offering patients a complete continuum of care and infusing education and research into all that it does. The facility, designed by Frank Gehry, houses clinical space, a diagnostic center, neuroimaging rooms, physician offices, laboratories devoted to clinical research and the Keep Memory Alive Event Center.