Inspired by exceptional care,
family raises the bar for excellence
at UF’s movement disorders program
FOR PEOPLE WITH COMPLEX NEUROLOGICAL DISEASES such as Parkinson’s, finding specialized and holistic care can be a frustrating challenge. Patients must often travel to multiple facilities over a span of weeks or even months to create a comprehensive treatment program with medical experts from different disciplines.
UF neurology chair Michael S. Okun, MD ’96, and UF neurosurgeon Kelly D. Foote, MD, founded UF’s movement disorders program in 2002, which evolved into the UF Health Center for Movement Disorders and Neurorestoration in 2011 to provide patients with a better way to navigate the health care system. They launched the interdisciplinary service and science hub specialty care model to enable patients to see upward of nine medical experts from different disciplines during a single visit.
“You can engage with a variety of doctors, therapists and other specialists in one place, and that’s unique,” said Lee Fixel, whose father, Norman, is being treated by Foote and Okun. “I’m not aware of a place capable of delivering such integrated, well-rounded clinical programs to its patients, and we experience it every time we are here.”
Inspired by the team’s work, the Lauren and Lee Fixel Family Foundation made a $20 million gift in January to establish the Norman Fixel Institute for Neurological Diseases at UF Health, an institute focused on advancing research, technological innovation and clinical care for Parkinson’s disease and other neurodegenerative conditions, including Alzheimer’s, Lewy body dementia, ALS, dystonia and concussions.
“I wish my father, like millions of others battling neurological disorders, didn’t have to struggle daily with Parkinson’s disease,” Lee Fixel said. “We’re very inspired by the work they’re doing here, and we want to help amplify their impact on as many patients as possible.”
The Fixel family’s gift was matched by UF, and the total $40 million funding package is another catalyst in the $100 million comprehensive campaign designed to provide additional resources for UF scientists and doctors working to advance treatments of neurological disorders.
“We have amazing faculty dedicated to Parkinson’s and other neurologic diseases,” said Okun, executive director of the Fixel Institute. “One of the primary goals of this gift is to attract additional world-class physicians, scientists and academicians who together can make an even bigger impact.”
An additional $4 million gift from the Lauren and Lee Fixel Family Foundation helped drive the creation of a new home for the Fixel Institute on Williston Road, which opened its doors to patients July 1. The innovative facility provides expanded space and resources to fulfill the team’s missions of interdisciplinary care, research and education.
“These amazingly generous and transformational gifts and our new facility have empowered the increasingly large team here at the Fixel Institute to make a substantial difference for people dealing with complex neurological problems,” said Foote, co-director of the Fixel Institute.
During an evening celebration followed by a gift signing the next day, UF and UF Health announced on Jan. 18, 2019 that the Lauren and Lee Fixel Family Foundation made a $20 million gift to establish the Norman Fixel Institute for Neurological Diseases at UF Health.
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