By Laura Dawahare
Special to KyForward
Last month, the UK HealthCare ALS Clinic earned a coveted recognition from the ALS Association: ALS Association Certified Treatment Center of Excellence. The certification honors UK’s commitment to ALS research and patient care, which centers around a multidisciplinary approach where ALS patients see a variety of specialists in a single visit.
(Read more about ALSA Certification here.)
But the ALS Clinic—part of UK’s Kentucky Neuroscience Institute (KNI) — goes beyond those requirements, offering a valuable service called the ALS Equipment Loan Closet in partnership with the ALS Association’s Kentucky Chapter and Roddy and Kim Williams, who co-own APEX Mobility.
“ALS is decimating financially, as patients require expensive, customized equipment to help prolong their independence, and they often need it right away,” said Dr. Edward Kasarskis, UK HealthCare ALS clinic director. “The Loan Closet helps bridge the gap between a patient’s diagnosis and the time it takes for the equipment to arrive.”
Kim Williams explains that a customized wheelchair can have any number of features to help the patient navigate, sleep, and/or stand. That level of technology comes with a steep price tag — between $ 25,000 to $ 30,000 — and the process can take up to eight weeks from insurance approval/reimbursement to equipment delivery.
“ALS is often not diagnosed until the patient has significant symptoms and you can’t just get equipment off the shelf,” said Williams. “The Loan Closet exists so that the patient and his/her family can adjust more quickly,” adding that she and Roddy see it as critical to patient safety, independence and well-being.
Williams comes to UK’s Kentucky Neurosciences Institute (KNI) every Tuesday to visit with ALS patients and match their needs to what’s currently available, which can range from wheelchairs to walkers and lifts to speech generating devices.
The Loan Closet is stocked through equipment donations from the families of former patients and supplemented by fundraising and is available free of charge to patients.
According to Kim, Kasarskis approached Roddy about 13 years ago, begging for help on behalf of his patients.
“By the second time Roddy visited the ALS Clinic, he was hooked,” Kim said. “It became his passion to help these people.” Since then, APEX Mobility has focused almost entirely on the needs of ALS patients.
Kasarskis, who is similarly devoted to his patients, sings Roddy’s praises.
“Roddy and Kim do this with a generous heart, and in doing so make the lives of countless patients and families a lot better. For that, we are so grateful.”
Laura Dawahare writes for UK Now