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July 28, 2014

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Ruvo Center begins treating patients

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Leila Navidi

Maureen Peckman, CEO of Keep Memory Alive, is shown during a tour of the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health on July 10. The center’s first patients were seen July 13.

The patient care component is up and running at the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health.

The first patients were seen July 13 at the Ruvo Center, a Las Vegas-based institute dedicated to the research and care of degenerative neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s.

“We still have much more to accomplish, but welcoming patients is a truly significant bench mark for us,” Larry Ruvo, the institute’s founder, said in a statement. “It’s certainly a day worth celebrating for everyone who has worked so hard to make this effort a reality.”

Ruvo’s father, Lou, had Alzheimer’s disease. The institute is named in his honor.

The rest of the campus, designed by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry, is still under construction with the estimated completion in January, said Maureen Peckman, CEO of Keep Memory Alive, the fundraising arm of the Ruvo Center.

The land and building are valued at $100 million, she said, and so far, the nonprofit group has raised $70 million, most of it from Nevadans.

“We will have always been started by Nevadans,” she said.

The unusual design of the Ruvo Center was intentional, Peckman said. Not only will it allow the organization to offer tours, a gift shop and meeting and event space, but it helps to bring awareness to the diseases, she said.

Health care brings money into the state from federal sources, such as Medicare, the primary insurer of people with neurodegenerative diseases, said Dr. Randolph Schiffer, director of the Center for Brain Health and a neuropsychiatrist.

“This (institute) will bring in a significant amount of money and jobs,” he said.

A tour of the medical area revealed a magnetic resonance imaging and computerized axial tomography scanners. The institute is awaiting delivery of a positron emission tomography scanner.

There are individual waiting rooms where spinal taps and injections can be performed, and a private room to speak with patients and their family about diagnoses and treatments.

“Nothing here that we’re dealing with is minor,” he said. “These are bad things happening.”

Within a year’s time, Schiffer estimates the center will have 2,000 patients, with an eventual annual patient load of 8,000.

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