Hackensack University Medical Center, a member of Hackensack Meridian Health, is pleased to announce the arrival of Florian P. Thomas, M.D., M.A., Ph.D., M.S., chair of the Neuroscience Institute and chief of the Neurology Division at HackensackUMC. Dr. Thomas will move quickly to establish a multiple sclerosis (MS) center and a hereditary neuropathy (Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease) center at HackensackUMC.
MS is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information in the brain, optic nerves and spinal cord. In the United States, Dr. Thomas says MS affects approximately one in 1,000 people, with at least two to three times more women than men being diagnosed with the disease.
Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT) affects approximately one in 2,500 people. The disease causes progressive nerve damage and those with CMT often develop difficulty walking and may become dependent upon assistive devices to remain mobile.
“I am pleased to welcome Dr. Thomas to our team,” said Ihor S. Sawczuk, president of HackensackUMC. “We look forward to the valuable and meaningful contributions he will make in service of our patients, their families and the community.”
Dr. Thomas’ treatment philosophy is to provide patient-centered, comprehensive care. “This is particularly important in the case of chronic conditions that challenge patients to be knowledgeable about their condition and advocate effectively for themselves, be engaged in their own care, juggle frequent appointments with different providers, optimize health behavior, avoid complications and maintain a positive attitude,” says Dr. Thomas.
His goal is to be accessible to his patients, offering centralized care so patients can see him and other team members during a single visit, to communicate effectively with each provider.
“At times, patients with chronic illness can feel overwhelmed with the challenges of their own care; this may result in delays or missed opportunities in preventive care or treatment of co-existing conditions. Some patients with chronic illness suffer depression and sleep disorders,” Dr. Thomas says he’s committed to helping patients access excellent services at HackensackUMC for all their needs.
For more than 20 years, Dr. Thomas has worked closely with patient advocacy groups such as the National MS Society, the CMT Association, the Hereditary Neuropathy Foundation, and the Centers for Independent Living. He has reached out to their regional affiliates, and plans to do the same with groups representing ALS, Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy.
A clinician-scientist with extensive management and programmatic leadership experience, Dr. Thomas has been a practicing neurologist since 1987. He previously served as director of National MS Society Multiple Sclerosis Centers at St. Louis University and the St. Louis VAMC; director of the Hereditary Neuropathy Center of Excellence at St. Louis University; director of the St. Louis VA Spinal Cord Injury Service, director of the Clinical Research Unit, Departments of Neurology and Psychiatry, and attending physician at St. Louis University Hospital, St. Mary’s Hospital, Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital, and the St. Louis VA Medical Center.
The next step will be to offer similar care at Jersey Shore Medical Center, a member of Hackensack Meridian Health, covering the needs of patients in northern and central New Jersey. He plans to offer patients clinical trials for access to drugs under development.
About Hackensack University Medical Center
HackensackUMC, a 775-bed nonprofit teaching and research hospital located in Bergen County, NJ, is the largest provider of inpatient and outpatient services in the state. Founded in 1888 as the county’s first hospital, it is a member of Hackensack Meridian Health, one of the largest networks in the state comprised of 28,000 team members and more than 6,000 physicians. HackensackUMC was listed as the number one hospital in New Jersey in U.S. News & World Report’s 2016-17 Best Hospital rankings – maintaining its place atop the NJ rankings since the rating system was introduced. It was also named one of the top four New York Metro Area hospitals. HackensackUMC is one of only five major academic medical centers in the nation to receive Healthgrades America’s 50 Best Hospitals Award for five or more years in a row. The medical center is one of the top 25 green hospitals in the country according to Practice Greenhealth, and received 24 Gold Seals of Approval™ by The Joint Commission – more than any other hospital in the country. It was the first hospital in New Jersey and second in the nation to become a Magnet® recognized hospital for nursing excellence; receiving its fifth consecutive designation in 2014. HackensackUMC has created an entire campus of award-winning care, including: the John Theurer Cancer Center; the Heart & Vascular Hospital; and the Sarkis and Siran Gabrellian Women’s and Children’s Pavilion, which houses the Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital and Donna A. Sanzari Women’s Hospital, which was designed with The Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center and listed on the Green Guide’s list of Top 10 Green Hospitals in the U.S. HackensackUMC is the Hometown Hospital of the New York Giants and the New York Red Bulls and is Official Medical Services Provider to The Barclays PGA Golf Tournament. It remains committed to its community through fundraising and community events.