Just a couple miles north of the Las Vegas strip sits one of legendary architect Frank Gehry’s most recent projects. A framework of undulating metal wraps over the crisp, modular northern face of the building—the steel almost melting under the scorching desert heat. Though this eclectically styled building may seem like an unlikely home for a medical research facility, the work done at this facility rivals the impressiveness of its architecture. As a part of the Cleveland Clinic, the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health treats a wide variety of neurodegenerative diseases such as (but not limited to) Alzheimer’s, ALS, Parkinson’s, and MS.
In my first two weeks as summer intern here at the Ruvo Center, I’ve had the opportunity to work in the physical and occupational therapy departments, taking vitals for incoming patients, assisting in exercise classes specifically designed for the movement impaired, and helping therapists administer various treatments and exercises. Though PT and OT formally have different types of goals—PT seeks improve physical function, and OT aims to help patients with activities of daily living—both departments work closely with each other to establish and work towards care goals.
The highly collaborative environment and the ever-present maxim of “patients first” here at the Ruvo Center reminds me of the Ignatian ideal of cura personalis. In my interactions with patients and therapists, it is abundantly clear that many of the problems faced by these patients go beyond their neurological diagnosis; frequently, economic and social factors pose serious barriers to adequate healthcare. Although one may not often consider Jesuit principles as skills that can be used in the workplace, I believe that my understanding of cura personalis has helped me to better understand the multi-faceted approach to care practiced by the Ruvo Center. It’s easy to say that giving a patient carbidopa-levodopa may help ameliorate their Parkinson’s symptoms, or that rivastigmine can slow the progression of Alzheimer’s. However, in working with the care providers here, I’ve come to truly appreciate the type of compassion and approach needed to work in the healthcare profession.
In the following weeks I will be transitioning away from PT/OT and into the actual clinic itself. It is my hope that I will continue to be able to apply the lessons and ideals that I’ve gained from Boston College in my interactions with the physicians and their patients.
Written by Julia Bals, BC Class of 2017