Phyllis and Dr. Gary VanderArk with CNI Executive Director Tami Lack Crawford
In 1988, a young neurosurgeon, Dr. Gary VanderArk, and several of his colleagues at Swedish Medical Center joined with physicians at Craig Rehabilitation Hospital and Spalding Rehabilitation Center to start a new enterprise, “Colorado Neurological Institute.”
Neuro specialists interested in working in a non-academic, non-university model have been drawn to CNI for 30 years, by the opportunity to engage in research outside the walls of an academic setting. Alongside VanderArk, these specialists achieved Centers of Excellence designation for CNI in several disease areas, and shown a spotlight on the Swedish community as a neurological hub. These dedicated professionals also implemented the state stroke registry, and birthed the stroke telemedicine network in Colorado. VanderArk and fellow CNI founding physicians and administrators will be honored April 21 at CNI’s 30th anniversary celebration, “Spotlight on Hope: Illuminating our Past, Present & Future.”
Health care has changed since 1988, and CNI has also transformed, expanding services and implementing new methods of providing patient-centered treatment for those living with neurological disorders. CNI provides comprehensive neurologically-based rehab, counseling, supportive services and health and wellness programs for people living with stroke, MS, Parkinson’s, epilepsy, ALS, dystonia, brain tumors, hearing disorders and other neuro conditions. CNI is now a stand-alone, community-based nonprofit entity located in Englewood. Research offices are located on the campuses of St. Joseph’s Hospital and Swedish Medical Center, where innovative research is taking place with more than 40 clinical trials currently ongoing in the areas of migraine, brain tumor, MS, epilepsy, ALS and cochlear implants.
“It’s a new day at CNI,” VanderArk observed from his position as a member of the CNI board of directors. “It’s obviously not the institute model we originally envisioned. However, there are exciting things happening, and CNI continues to be an invaluable resource for neuro patients. I’m glad to see us branching out into the community and touching lives in such meaningful ways.”
The future looks bright for CNI. The new headquarters near Hampden Avenue and Santa Fe Drive, contain 10,000 square feet of gym space, two classrooms, multiple therapy rooms and administrative offices. CNI recently received a $50,000 grant from the Daniels Fund to expand the gym with state-of-the-art, specialized rehab equipment.
CNI is on the threshold of expanding even further. “There is a push across the U.S. to make neuro health as important and as well understood as cardio care has been,” says Tami Lack Crawford, executive director of CNI. “Increased heart health awareness has increased our life span. We want to increase brain health awareness, and maximize quality of life for as long as possible” To initiate a national campaign on brain awareness, Colorado Neurological Institute has added a national brand to their existing title: “Center for Neurological Innovation,” and attracted several national organizations interested in funding CNI in providing nationwide educational and supportive services to the growing number of baby boomers experiencing neurological conditions.
CNI remains a nonprofit, and that means large-scale funding is always needed to provide direct patient care, research, rehab, social work, and a wide variety of patient-centered services. For more information on CNI programs, how to make a donation, or how to join a clinical trial, contact the main office at email@example.com or call 303-788-4010.
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