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Dr. Elizabeth Minto, assistant professor of neurology at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine and a neurologist with USA Physicians Group, was named “Healthcare Professional of the Year” by the Alabama/Mississippi chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. She was presented with the award at a ceremony in Birmingham last week.
“This award means a great deal to me, both personally and professionally,” Dr. Minto said. “It is humbling to be recognized by such a vital organization that does so much for people living with multiple sclerosis.”
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain and between the brain and body. According to Dr. Minto, access to neurologists with the level of comfort and experience to treat MS is limited in our region. “I have long felt that those in the southern part of Alabama are particularly disadvantaged, as there are so many more resources available in Birmingham and its surrounding areas,” she said.
MS is currently treatable, but not curable, and even with treatment it remains a progressive disease. Dr. Minto said it gives her great pride to offer treatment to those living in the area who previously had to drive hours to access care. In addition, she is passionate about teaching future neurologists to help improve the care for patients with the complex diagnosis of MS. “Without an MS specialist in our academic medical center at USA, the exposure of our neurology residents and medical students to patients with MS would be severely limited,” she said.
At the ceremony, a volunteer of the year from both Alabama and Mississippi also were presented with awards. “It was a truly moving event, highlighting the various ways the MS Society helps raise money for research on the disease, as well as connecting those living with MS to resources when they are challenged with things like transportation, access to care, and even home modifications and meals,” she said.
Dr. Minto feels strongly that the MS Society is the most effective community resource for those living with MS, as it helps to connect patients with resources, as well as raise millions of dollars for research into not only treating the disease, but also preventing it. She said the MS Society is also in part to thank for funding the fellowship training of Dr. William Kilgo, who completed his neurology residency at USA in 2017 and is currently midway through his fellowship training at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He will be returning to USA next year, further expanding the access to care for those living with MS in the Gulf Coast region.
Dr. Minto has volunteered in numerous capacities to raise funds for the Alabama state chapter and has served as an educational speaker for many Society events for patients and their caregivers. In addition, she helped organize a team – called “Jag Nation for Remyelination” – for the MS Walk in 2017, which raised approximately $2,000.
Dr. Minto said she shares this award with her staff at the USA Department of Neurology outpatient clinic and the USA infusion center. “They spend countless hours helping patients with the complex tangle of insurance precertifications and scheduling that goes along with the various medications used to treat MS,” she said. “It would not be possible to care for these patients without the tireless work of our staff members.”
Nominees for the award were judged on their dedication to the MS movement, passion for providing personalized care to people affected by MS, and innovation in disease management and treatment. Learn more about the award here.
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