PHOENIX, Oct. 4, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center and the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix today announced an agreement to create the Valley Fever Center based at the hospital. The center will be directed by John Galgiani, MD, who has more than 30 years of experience in treating and researching Valley Fever and founded the Valley Fever Center of Excellence in Tucson in 1996.
The center plans to see patients by the beginning of 2012, said Linda Hunt, president and chief executive officer of St. Joseph's Hospital, and Stuart D. Flynn, MD, dean of the College of Medicine - Phoenix, in announcing the agreement on Tuesday.
"Valley Fever has been a serious problem for so long. It's truly Arizona's disease," says Hunt.. "This partnership will create a place to coordinate comprehensive care for patients, educate doctors, and support research to improve the care of Valley Fever and eventually cure and prevent the disease altogether."
Dr. Flynn added, "We are very fortunate that we have this renowned center from which to draw great Valley Fever treatment and research. This new program in Phoenix is a milestone because there will be an academic focus where most of the affected patients are located."
There are approximately 150,000 new Valley Fever infections annually in the United States. Fully two-thirds of these affect Arizonans, mostly in Maricopa County. Pets, especially dogs, are also susceptible. Some patients take up to many months to recover and each year Valley Fever is responsible for several dozen deaths. This new center gives Phoenix-area patients the best available treatment options. It will also serve to coordinate interdisciplinary care by clinicians throughout Maricopa County and even across the state.
"St. Joseph's Hospital is an outstanding medical facility with nationally recognized neurosurgical expertise in the Barrow Neurological Institute," said Dr. Galgiani. "Having the UA College of Medicine now in Phoenix can build on these resources and increase the opportunities for medical education and biomedical research to connect with the clinical activities."
Dr. Galgiani also noted that many doctors in Phoenix already have a lot of experience with diagnosing and treating the disease.
"The problem is that patients with Valley Fever often cannot find the right doctor or they have such complicated problems that they can't get all of the needed expertise coordinated," Dr. Galgiani said. "The new center is planned to integrate the skills of many specialists resulting in better care for patients and better support for physicians through coordination and consultation."
SOURCE St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center