OLOL ALS clinic celebrates 3rd anniversary

Bobby and Susan McCall meet with one of the many specialists at the OLOL’s ALS Clinic.
Bobby and Susan McCall meet with one of the many specialists at the OLOL’s ALS Clinic.(WAFB)
Updated: Mar. 19, 2021 at 5:26 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The ALS Clinic operated by Our Lady of the Lake Hospital is celebrating 3 years serving patients in the Baton Rouge area.

It opened as a multidisciplinary practice with the goal of providing access to the full range of specialists who provide care for ALS patients in one place. Their services include neurology, physical and occupational therapy, nutrition counseling, respiratory therapy, palliative care, and more.

According to the Mayo Clinic, ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is “a progressive nervous system disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, causing loss of muscle control.” There is no cure, and care consists of treating the many symptoms of the disease which can manifest in several different ways.

One of the first patients at the Lake’s ALS Clinic was Bobby McCall. He received his ALS diagnosis after noticing some weakness in his hand. After pointing it out to his doctor, he was sent to a neurologist who identified the disease. McCall can tell you the exact moment that happened: 5 years, 8 months, 28 days ago.

“I keep count. Every day is a blessing,” said McCall.

Before the ALS Clinic opened in Baton Rouge, McCall and his wife Susan drove to Houston for his frequent doctor’s visits. It was an all-day affair made harder by traffic. Now, they need only drive a mile from their home and spend a few hours every few months to get the care he needs.

“It is wonderful. Mainly because the people here are so fantastic. We have been to other clinics and we’re just so impressed with this one. The people here are kind, compassionate, and professional,” said Susan. “They’re all wonderful and they say call whenever.”

The clinic neurologist, Dr. Kevin Calleramie, says the demand for a “one-stop-shop” clinic for ALS patients is huge. Since opening they’ve served patients from all over the region, from Lake Charles to Shreveport. He says giving local families the option to seek treatment near home relieves some of the stress caused by travel as the disease progresses and patients become less mobile. Having all their specialists in the same building, also helps tailor treatment options, said Calleramie.

“We make recommendations as a group, so we’re on the same page,” said Calleramie. “We’ll have what we call our round up and we’ll talk about everybody. Each one of the disciplines can have some input in it.”

Right now, the clinic is open the second Friday each month, from 7:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and patients are seen via doctor’s referral. In three years, they’ve served around 90 patients, more than quadruple their original estimates. Now, the clinic is working toward becoming recognized by the National ALS Association. Calleramie believes the need for their services will only grow in the coming years.

“All we can do is see this growing. We’re going to be larger, we’re going to encompass more days in a month,” said Calleramie of the clinic’s future.

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