Pioneering Care: MS Wellness

By Deanna N. Duff July 20, 2012 Published in the August 2012 issue of Seattle Met

Visitors to Swedish’s new state-of-the-art Multiple Sclerosis Center are welcomed by a flourishing affirmation of life. Live potted plants fill the lobby wall of the 11,700-square-foot facility from floor to ceiling. The $4.2 million MS Center, considered the only one of its kind in the nation, opened its doors this spring. It addresses all aspects of treating MS, a chronic disease that attacks the central nervous system and can cause symptoms from paralysis to vision loss. “It’s really trying to get to the wellness aspect and demedicalize the experience [of doctor visits],” says Dr. Jim Bowen, neurologist and MS Center medical director. Every detail was considered—wider doors to accommodate wheelchairs, no carpeting to catch toes, and a centralized layout to reduce walking for the mobility impaired. On the outside patio, a trellis covered in vining plants is outfitted with an exercise harness. The center hosts one of the largest clinical research programs in the country and a multidisciplinary team of neurologists, psychologists, social workers, and therapists. It has room enough to eventually triple its population to some 6,000 patients. “This center should be 90 percent about living your life and only 10 percent about actually seeing the docs,” says Bowen.

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