Holy Cross to use $7 million gift to improve neurological services in South Florida

October 15, 2016

Holy Cross Hospital of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., will use a $7 million gift from a South Florida businessman to improve neurological care, with a focus on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. The donor has earmarked $2 million of the gift as matching funds in a community fundraising challenge.

The hospital will use the donation to establish an ALS and movement disorders clinic in an existing on-campus neurological institute. Both the institute and clinic will be named in honor of the donor, Phil Smith, president and chief executive of the Phil Smith Automotive Group of Lighthouse Point, Fla. That automotive group includes 16 car dealerships in Florida and North Carolina.

Currently, Holy Cross has a neurological institute with 15 neurological physician specialists. Although these specialists now provide comprehensive care for people with neurological conditions including ALS, the hospital is not a certified center of excellence for ALS care. Nor are there any certified centers in South Florida.

To be certified as a center of excellence by the ALS Association, providers must meet the association's clinical care and treatment standards, participate in ALS-related research and pass a site review by the association. Dr. Patrick Taylor, president and chief executive of Holy Cross, said Smith's donation will enable Holy Cross to develop a multidisciplinary team of ALS experts, build the specialized clinic to house the ALS services and participate in clinical trials to potentially become a certified center.

Key to increasing ALS expertise and services at Holy Cross is the expansion of a relationship with Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Taylor said that for several years, Holy Cross and Mass General have been jointly treating patients, sharing expertise and taking part in clinical trials, in the areas of oncology and cardiovascular services. The Smith funds will allow for this type of collaborative work in neurosciences, Taylor said. Mass General has an ALS certified center.

Smith has ALS and has received treatment from Holy Cross. Some treatment required expertise not available in South Florida, and so Smith has traveled to Mass General to receive care. He said in a press release, "My vision with this matching contribution program is to establish a neurological center having the same level of cutting-edge care for our own community, so our residents can access this care without traveling elsewhere."

Smith has contributed to Holy Cross in the past, including by donating cars as prizes for a benefit golf tournament, and by allowing use of a country club he owns for the tournament.

ALS is a progressive degenerative neurological condition affecting an estimated 30,000 in the U.S. According to information from Holy Cross, as the nation has aged, there has been a rise in neurologically based conditions such as ALS.


Copyright © 2016 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States
For reprint permission, contact Betty Crosby or call (314) 253-3477.

Copyright © 2016 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States

For reprint permission, contact Betty Crosby or call (314) 253-3490.