The Ochsner Neuroscience Institute offers the latest in care for patients with diseases of the brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerves or muscles through the dedication and teamwork that provides patients with tailor made treatment options. The Ochsner Neuroscience Institute currently offers advanced treatments through programs for brain and spinal tumors, epilepsy, functional and pediatric neurosurgery, radiosurgery, cerebrovascular/stoke, multiple sclerosis, movement disorders, neuromuscular and memory disorders. Within these programs are some of the most innovative and cutting edge procedures offered in the Gulf South region, including in utero repair of myelomeningocele for babies diagnosed with spina bifida, tumor eradication utilizing noninvasive radiosurgery, intraoperative navigation systems and brain mapping.
Desi: Multiple Sclerosis Donor, Patient and Advocate
When New Orleans native Desi was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) - an often disabling chronic disease affecting the central nervous system – she almost felt relieved. She finally understood why she had been having trouble walking and was falling frequently, occasionally suffering concussions. In fact, Desi accepted her diagnosis with the same positive, can-do attitude with which she approaches everything in her life.
“I’m not giving up,” says Desi, 58. “I am a fighter. I want the best possible care, which is exactly what I’m getting at Ochsner.” She knew from personal experience that Ochsner offered world-class care and treatment; her father, who also had multiple sclerosis, was cared for by one of the health system’s founders, Dr. Alton Ochsner.
Leading neurologist Dr. Bridget Bagert, Director of the Ochsner Multiple Sclerosis Center, diagnosed Desi’s condition in 2013 and has been caring for her ever since. “Desi is an inspiration,” Dr. Bagert says. “She is fully engaged in the process and is game for anything that will help her better manage her disease.”
Still, MS has caused Desi to make many changes in her life. She was having cognitive issues, “a bit of brain fog,” she says, so she retired from her successful career in commercial banking in 2013. She can no longer ride a bike, go for a walk alone or use stairs. She avoids crowds because she is afraid of being jostled and falling. A passionate supporter of education, Desi has raised money for her son’s school and funded a scholarship at her alma mater, the University of New Orleans. She now channels all her philanthropic energy into two related causes: multiple sclerosis research and education.
“I was amazed to discover how many misperceptions people have about multiple sclerosis,” Desi says. She notes that people asked her questions such as how she got MS (no one knows what causes the disease for certain), if MS is contagious (it isn’t) and what the cure is (there isn’t one). Troubled by the myths associated with MS, Desi decided to make raising awareness of the disease a priority. She was also deeply inspired by the work that Dr. Bagert and other researchers are doing to improve treatments and one day find a cure, and she wanted to lend her support to these efforts.
After six months of planning, Desi held a party in celebration of her birthday. For the occasion, she asked guests to make donations to Ochsner’s Multiple Sclerosis Center in lieu of bringing gifts. She also offered to personally match up to $3,000 per calendar year in 2016 and 2017 through a fundraising challenge.
Dr. Bagert says that she and her team at the Multiple Sclerosis Center are grateful for Desi’s commitment to their work. “We value it so much when patients want to give back,” she says. “There is revolutionary research happening in the field now, and Desi’s generous support can really make a difference in the lives of others.”
“Dr. Bagert is the reason I have become such a multiple sclerosis warrior,” Desi says. “And giving back is in my DNA. It always makes me feel better when I help others.”
Thank you Desi, for being an inspiration to us all!
A Word from Doctors Wale Sulaiman and Richard Zweifler, Co-Medical Directors of Neuroscience
The Ochsner Neuroscience Institute earns national and regional recognition as a leader in providing referring physicians and patients with quality neuroscience services. Our multidisciplinary team offers the latest diagnostic and therapeutic options for adults and children in a variety of care settings and locations.
Ochsner integrates experienced and expert providers from a variety of specialties through centers and programs collaborating to provide patients with comprehensive, coordinated services throughout the continuum of care in locations throughout the greater New Orleans, North Shore and Baton Rouge regions and in a broad range of subspecialties. Our multidisciplinary approach results in more effective and efficient care leading to better patient outcomes.
The quality of the Ochsner Neuroscience Institute has been independently verified as being among the nation's best. U.S. News & World Report ranked Ochsner as #24 in the nation for neurology and neurosurgery. Healthgrades® honored us as one of America’s 100 Best Hospitals for Stroke Care. Healthgrades also recognized us with its Excellence Awards for Neurosciences, Neurosurgery and Stroke Care. We also earned their Five-Star Awards for Neurosurgery and Treatment of Stroke.
We are finding new and innovative ways to bring this level of care to physicians and patients. Our fleet of medically equipped helicopters, fixed-wing aircraft and ground vehicles are available for emergency and critical care needs. We offer a flight team of physicians, critical care nurses and other specially trained neuroscience staff on call 24/7. Our unique telestroke program uses telemedicine to deliver nationally ranked care to patients in 30 hospitals across Louisiana and Mississippi and recently cared for its 4,000th patient.
Ochsner is committed to excellence in patient care and service to our referring providers. We look forward to working with you.
Wale Sulaiman, MD, PhD and Richard Zweifler, MD
For more information, please contact the Department of Philanthropy at 504-842-7110.