Care Center Corner

Drs. Maria Berdella and Patricia Walker, Co-Directors of Beth Israel’s Cystic Fibrosis Center, lead a dedicated and enthusiastic multidisciplinary team

The Cystic Fibrosis Center at Beth Israel Medical Center has specialized in the care and well-being of people with cystic fibrosis since 1977. When the Center’s home, Saint Vincent’s Hospital and Medical Center of New York, closed its doors in May 2010, the strength of the CF Center staff was on full display as they were challenged to move 14 employees, 175 patients, and 14 research trials to a new institution. After input from patients and parents, we have a new home at Beth Israel with our own CF website.

Donna DiBenedetto, Nurse Coordinator, combines her expertise in all aspects of CF care to benefit patients and staff alike.  The Center’s Social Worker, Amy Purdy Plachta, LMSW has been providing outstanding social work services since 1997 and as a mentor, shares her expertise with CF social workers throughout the country. The Exercise Program, with PTA LaShanda Dandrich as coordinator, offers patients a variety of conditioning exercises, enhanced airway clearance techniques, and “mind-body” therapies. This serves as a motivator to many of our patients.

Beth Israel Medical Center is unique in having a genetic counselor at every outpatient clinic session. The counselors coordinate all aspects of CF mutation analysis and ensure that patients are well-informed about the exciting mutation-based therapies that are under investigation.  Elinor Langfelder Schwind, M.S., serves as genetic counselor and regulatory research coordinator, and Kara G. Young coordinates the follow-up of CF newborn screening referrals from the New York State Department of Health.  Beth Israel also has many renowned health care programs including a wellness and integrative medicine center, a pulmonary rehabilitation center, a diabetes specialty care center and a gastroenterology center.

The CF Center is part of the CF Foundation’s Therapeutic Development Network for research.  Patients can participate in cutting-edge clinical trials for promising new therapies. Some of the exciting upcoming CF research studies include evaluating the safety and effectiveness of the compounds VX-770 (AKA Kalydeco and Ivacaftor) in patients with the mutation R117H, and an upcoming study of ΔF508, the most common CFTR gene mutation. PTC124 (Ataluren) is being studied as an oral treatment for CF patients with certain types of gene mutations.  We have completed two trials of a potential new inhaled antibiotic (levofloxacin). 

Dr. Berdella serves on the Greater NY Chapter Board of Directors. CF Center staff, patients and families support the Foundation and Chapter sponsored educational and fund-raising events throughout the year.  Many Beth Israel CF families sit on organizing committees for these events.  We are represented at Chapter events in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, in events such as, Great Strides and “Breath of Spring.”

Team Beth Israel’s theme for Great Strides this year was “Exercise Rules!”  The CF Center patients greatly enjoyed and benefited from participating in the Great Strides event in NYC, even winning a competition among local care centers for recruiting the greatest number of new performing teams.

For more information about the Cystic Fibrosis Center at Beth Israel Medical Center,
please click here.