Mercy is again adding services for Parkinson’s patients and people living with movement disorders thanks to generous donations from local businessman and philanthropist Herman Meinders.
A movement disorder is a neurological disease that impairs a person’s ability to move naturally. Movement disorders include Parkinson’s Disease, Huntington’s Disease, essential tremor and dystonia.
Meinders’ goal is to fund Mercy’s efforts to create Oklahoma’s first Center of Excellence for Parkinson Disease, a prestigious designation given by the Parkinson’s Foundation to clinics that meet its rigorous criteria. The closest comprehensive programs for patients living with movement disorders are in Kansas City and Houston.
Meinders made his first donation of $1.67 million to Mercy Health Foundation in 2018, which allowed Mercy to open the Meinders Center for Movement Disorders. Mercy also added Dr. Cherian Abraham Karunapuzha, its first physician who specializes in the treatment of movement disorders. The funds helped build the center and purchase equipment needed to offer deep brain stimulation, a cutting-edge brain surgery for patients living with movement disorders.
Meinders made an additional $1.56 million donation to Mercy Health Foundation this year to add more services to the center, bringing his total investment to $3.23 million.
In a blessing and dedication ceremony Thursday evening, Mercy renamed its NeuroScience Institute the Meinders NeuroScience Institute to honor Meinders for his support.
Meinders and his wife were longtime supporters of Parkinson’s research and treatment before he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 2014. In 1970, Meinders founded American Floral Services Inc. (AFS), an international flowers-by-wire service based in Oklahoma City. AFS, now Teleflora, grew to be ranked as one of the largest floral wire services in the world. Meinders sold AFS in 1994, and it merged with Teleflora in 2000. He remains chairman emeritus of Teleflora.
“This is philanthropy at its finest,” said Lori Cummins, vice president of development for Mercy Health Foundation. “There was a need and it has been completely provided for by a donor. Herman’s heroic generosity will make a tremendous difference in the lives of patients for years to come.
The Meinders Center for Movement Disorders now offers a unique, multidisciplinary team of neurology practitioners that includes nurses, physical therapists, speech therapists and home health. The team is led by Dr. Karunapuzha.
“Having a comprehensive team approach to evaluating patients helps us reduce falls and aspiration-related infections, which are the major causes of hospitalizations for these patients,” Dr. Karunapuzha said.
The center also provides access to free community resources such as educational seminars, support groups and fitness classes with exercises designed specifically for their needs.
“Our patients really struggle with mobility issues and it’s a real challenge for them to have to piecemeal their care at multiple locations,” Dr. Karunapuzha said. “What’s best for them is to have easy, convenient access to all their specialized care needs at one location and without Herman’s support, we wouldn’t have this new center. Every last cent of his donation has gone solely to developing this program.”
In the coming months, Karunapuzha is working to add research and clinical trials to the center, one of the final steps to becoming a Parkinson’s Foundation Center of Excellence.
For more information or to book an appointment with Dr. Karunapuzha, click here.