“When I see a newly-referred MS patient and she rolls into my office in a motorized wheelchair, clearly having suffered extensive disability due to this disease, I breathe a deep sigh of relief if she tells me she is an ICS member.”
This sentiment was expressed by Dr. Stephen Krieger, a neurologist, professor, and expert in Multiple Sclerosis earlier this year in a letter he wrote to New York State’s Health Commissioner and Governor, explaining why the specialized care management ICS provides is critical to the well-being of many patients he sees at the Center for Multiple Sclerosis at Mount Sinai Hospital.
A number of years ago ICS became the first organization of its kind to be designated a “Center of Excellence in Long Term Care” by the National MS Society. Last week we were thrilled to learn that the Society has now designated us the first long term care plan to be named a “Partner in MS Care,” a designation that until now has not been open to any long term care provider.
Being named an MS Society Partner in Care is a recognition that ICS has demonstrated knowledge and expertise in treating patients with MS. It highlights our collaboration with the Society in connecting patients to “the information, resources and support available to help them live their best lives with MS.”
Why it matters
According to Andrea Artz, Associate Vice President of Clinical Programs and Direct Services for the New York City–Southern New York Chapter of the National MS Society, “people with MS often have a very hard time getting appropriate services. This is a huge problem with a disease that is unpredictable, progressive, and potentially very disabling.”
The ICS MS team, developed by Senior Vice President for Care Management and MS-certified Nurse Rachael Stacom, was created more than a decade ago to help fill that gap in care.
Thanks to Rachael’s vision and expertise, ICS has developed close working relationships with New York City’s MS medical facilities, where ICS MS team staff work alongside the doctors who see our members with MS. This collaboration gives us the ability to expertly coordinate the services of these members, facilitating communication with their doctors, promoting adherence to treatment plans, and ensuring that they are able to get necessary services quickly as their needs change.
That ability to respond quickly is very important because, as Dr. Krieger wrote, “With MS, a patient’s condition, and therefore his or her needs, change over time in ways that do not follow a set course. The condition is unpredictable and can cause disability both quickly, as in an MS relapse, and gradually, as in MS progression.
“No two people with MS are quite the same. Given this, the ability to quickly and expertly respond to an individual patient’s changing disability and needs must be a priority for care management. For someone with MS, an undetected urinary tract infection, a disruption in essential supplies, or a breakdown in equipment the patient depends upon can have dire consequences.”
Rene Elkin, Chief of Neurology at Bronx-Lebanon Hospital is another expert who wrote to the Governor and State Health Commissioner in support ICS earlier this year. She told them, “Prior to ICS’s involvement many patients were lacking basic essentials. Now many of my patients receive the care that they require because of the disease-specific care coordination and access to services that ICS provides.”
We are incredibly proud of the recognition our MS care continues to receive and extremely grateful for the support and partnership of these outstanding medical providers and the dedicated leaders of the MS Society. Most of all, we are proud of the care and services we offer the many ICS members who are living with MS, to support them in living as healthfully and independently as possible.