by V.L. Henrickson -
When Debby and Peter Weinberg’s son, Henry, was diagnosed with a rare form of Cerebral Palsy when he was 3 months old, the family was lucky to able to turn to the doctors at Columbia University Medical Center for care. But, as Henry approaches adulthood, he has far fewer options for care.
“Ninety percent of CP patients now live until adulthood,” Mrs. Weinberg said. “That wasn’t always the case. Now there’s a big population of patients living to adulthood and no one was focusing on them. The focus was always on pediatrics.”
That is the reason the Weinbergs, along with friends and many family members, have donated $7 million to help establish the Weinberg Family Cerebral Palsy Center at CUMC, the launch of which was scheduled to be announced on Tuesday. The center will treat patients of all ages, as well as serve as a research and educational facility.
“Cerebral palsy is a little bit of an orphan disease, and hasn’t attracted a lot of attention over the years,” said Mr. Weinberg, who is a founding partner at Perella Weinberg Partners LP, a global financial-services firm. The center is a collection “of efforts to help people with CP with their issues.”
Patients with cerebral palsy, a group of disorders that affects speech, movement and cognitive function, often need special treatment from doctors experienced with the range of complications that can arise from even routine operations. Mrs. Weinberg relayed the experience of one adult CP patient, in need of hip surgery, who was referred by an orthopedic surgeon to a pediatrician who had experience with CP. The pediatrician, of course, wouldn’t operate on an adult. Fortunately, the patient was able to get care at Columbia’s new center, which has already begun reaching out to the CP community.
In addition to providing treatment for patients of all ages, the center, led by Dr. David P. Roye Jr., the St. Giles professor of pediatric orthopedic surgery at CUMC, will also help coordinate care for CP patients, educate their families and caregivers and conduct research. Doctors will study the impact of various treatments, to see if they make patients “more mobile, more independent, more pain free,” said Mrs. Weinberg. “If they give patients a better quality of life—that’s the goal.”
In addition, a patient registry of CP patients has been established at the center, providing valuable data for doctors and researchers all over the country. “The patient registry is in its infant stages, but it’s already the largest in the country,” Mrs. Weinberg said. “Lack of data has always been a problem.”
Henry, the Weinberg’s son, is now 17 years old and thriving in high school. But the family, who live in Greenwich, Conn., is relieved to know he will continue to have access to the best doctors as he becomes an adult. “There’s a lot of anxiety on the part of parents as to where their children will get care,” Mrs. Weinberg said.
The new center, a celebration of which was also scheduled for Tuesday, but will be rescheduled because of inclement weather, will help alleviate that anxiety for families all over the New York region.
[Via the Wall Street Journal]