Essentia’s ALS clinic certified as center of excellence

April 11, 2024  By: Anthony Matt

ALS Blizzard Tour

Essentia Health's ALS clinic in Duluth has been designated as a Certified Treatment Center of Excellence through the ALS Association, the nation’s leading nonprofit organization in fostering ALS research and providing assistance for people with the disease.

Essentia’s multidisciplinary clinic, led by Dr. Amber Erickson since 2011, offers treatment options for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, including three FDA-approved medications for sporadic ALS and one FDA-approved medication for a type of inherited ALS. All seek to slow the progression of ALS. Two years ago, the clinic began offering research participation in the Healey ALS Platform Trial involving more than 70 sites nationwide. Until then, the trial was not available north of Minneapolis.

“Our clinic provides what is considered the best care in ALS that one can receive, without having to travel,” said Dr. Erickson, an Essentia neurologist. “Many with ALS, and their families, find it very difficult to travel as the disease progresses; we can meet these very complex needs locally with the most compassionate and knowledgeable team I have ever worked with.”

In awarding the clinic the CTCE designation, the ALS Association noted its outstanding care and services include:

  • A strong relationship with the association.
  • A multidisciplinary team of nursing and allied health professionals caring for this patient population.
  • A neurologist with the specific knowledge base to evaluate and treat people living with this disease.
  • An ongoing process-improvement initiative.
  • Involvement in ALS research that is approved by institutional research boards.

In addition, thanks to the philanthropy of Never Surrender Inc. – a Minnesota-based organization dedicated to raising funds for ALS care – the clinic is working with the University of Minnesota to form an ALS collaborative that would serve the Upper Midwest. This will include an Expanded Access Program (EAP) to offer experimental treatments to those who do not qualify for research. Currently, the closest EAP site is in Illinois. 

Traditionally, a trial evaluates only one drug at a time and requires lengthy start-up and execution times. Conversely, platform trials include multiple drugs being tested at the same time. The mission is to find answers as quickly as possible by evaluating multiple drugs using a shared platform.

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