Excelling in Huntington's Disease Care Through Cura Familia

The Huntington Disease Care, Education & Research Center at Georgetown has been designated as an HDSA Center of Excellence for 2016 by the Huntington's Disease Society of America. The designation comes with a grant to support services for Huntington's disease patients and their families at the center, a collaboration between Georgetown University Medical Center and MedStar Georgetown University Hospital with generous support from the Griffin Foundation.

The Huntington Disease Center opened in 2012, making it the first comprehensive, multidisciplinary center in the D.C. area to focus on treatment, patient education, and research for Huntington's disease.

"We are thrilled to be designated a Center of Excellence," says Karen E. Anderson, director of the center and a neuropsychiatrist with dual appointments in the departments of psychiatry and neurology. "This designation will promote our high quality of care and research to Huntington's disease families in the region, since the HDSA is so widely recognized in the community."

According to the HDSA, the goal of the Center of Excellence program is to increase access to the best possible multidisciplinary clinical care and services for individuals affected by Huntington's disease. In addition to clinical and social services, the centers provide professional and lay education in the geographic areas they serve, and are involved in clinical research, working with HDSA locally and nationally.

"Our Georgetown Huntington Disease Center expanded quickly outside of Washington, so we could offer comprehensive services for patients and their families in Maryland and Virginia, too," says Carlo Tornatore, chair of neurology at MedStar Georgetown and professor of neurology at Georgetown School of Medicine. "All three host multiple services provided by a social worker, neurologist, neuro psychiatrist, neuropsychologist, genetic counselor, speech therapist, and occupational therapist. Patients also have access to clinical trials for emerging therapies."

The vast array of expertise is fostered by the collaboration between the hospital and the university, and the team's focus on providing support for family members and caregivers—cura familia.

"Early on, we wanted the center to be built on a foundation bridging two major care needs of families coping with Huntington's disease—psychiatric and neurologic," explains Steven A. Epstein, chair of psychiatry at MedStar Georgetown and professor of psychiatry at Georgetown's School of Medicine. "The team has done that, and with added support services, our center is an exceptional model for Huntington's disease centers across the nation. We are proud to have the HDSA designation."