The University of Alabama at Birmingham recently reacted to news of its inclusion into the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation Care Center Network, stating that it is an honor in recognition of their commitment towards patients who suffer from pulmonary fibrosis (PF), and that being an official PFFCC will allow them to help even more patients with the disease. The university was among 12 new sites that were added by the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation (PFF) to expand the network to 21 facilities in 20 states.
Directed by Victor Thannickal, M.D., the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine of the UAB is focused on studying and providing clinical care to pulmonary fibrosis patients. In addition, the Interstitial Lung Disease (ILD) clinic at the nearby Kirklin Clinic is currently responsible for the treatment of about 500 patients, with an estimated 200 new patients annually.
“Due to the geographic location of UAB, the growth of the research enterprise and the availability of new drugs to treat IPF, we are seeing patients referred to us from Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida and even from more distant regions in the United States,” said Joao de Andrade, M.D., director of the UAB ILD Program. “The selection of our program to become a member of the PFF Care Center Network is another recognition of UAB as a national center of excellence in ILD.”
Focused on a multidisciplinary and patient-centered approach, the UAB ILD Program provides four physicians, one nurse manager and three research coordinators to each patient. Additionally, the program has established partnerships with other physicians and scientists from the departments of Radiology and Pathology, and the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, in order to improve disease management and clinical outcomes.
The facility remains dedicated to offering excellency in clinical care, including access to novel therapies and providing education to new pulmonologists. In addition, the research programs of the division had already been granted several grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), including a $4 million per year grant to support the development of new therapies for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF).
“As the leading advocate for the pulmonary fibrosis community, we are dedicated to advancing the care of people living with this deadly disease, and this starts with providing greater access to experienced care teams,” explained the chief medical officer of the PFF, Gregory P. Cosgrove, M.D. “Working together, institutions within the network will identify and share best practices, which foster better care and ultimately enable more institutions that embrace these practices to be certified as PFF Care Center sites.”
The list of the 12 new sites added to the PFF Care Center Network was announced by the foundation earlier this week, and were selected given their medical leadership regarding the treatment of a series of lung conditions of difficult diagnosis and management, including idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), and that have survival rates of less than five years after diagnosis. The PFF believes that a multidisciplinary approach based on comprehensive care, including specialized care teams, is essential for the management of such complex diseases.
“When selecting sites to add to the PFF Care Center Network, we consider a center’s specific programs and its geographic location in order to best serve the needs of the broader pulmonary fibrosis community,” added the chair of the steering committee of the PFF Care Center Network, Kevin Flaherty, M.D., M.S. “The new centers selected provide the highest-quality patient care and an individualized approach to treatment in accordance with best evidence-based recommendations. We welcome these new centers and look forward to continuing to expand the network in the coming year.”
The network is selected by a panel of peer reviewers, which includes members of the PFF board of directors, a medical advisory board, PFF Care Center Network, PFF Patient Registry Steering Committee, and reviewed and scored applications that evaluate each site. In order to be included, the centers must follow the rules of the multidisciplinary and comprehensive care-based approach, as well as have experts in interstitial lung disease in pulmonary medicine, rheumatology, radiology and pathology.