The late Pat Summitt’s legacy for better Alzheimer’s care is about to become a reality through her namesake clinic, scheduled to open in December at the University of Tennessee Medical Center (UTMC).
The 7,500-square-foot Pat Summitt Clinic has been designed from the front door to the ceiling with Alzheimer’s patients in mind. Lower tables and chairs, hand rails and muted colors help those with dementia stay focused and avoid falling, said Danielle Hemsley, director of business development for Johnson Architecture, which designed the project, in a Knoxville News Sentinel article. The interior carefully avoids patterns and colors that could confuse someone with cognitive challenges, she added: “For example, if there was a very dark color on the floor, they could think it’s a hole and not want to cross it.” Interior rooms have light panels to mimic windows, helping to combat anxiety and maintain circadian rhythms.
Roberto Fernandez, MD, PhD, MPH, professor of neurology at University of Virginia health and a noted researcher in the field, has been chosen as the clinic’s first medical director.
Summitt, who died of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease in 2016, raised more than $2 million through her foundation to build the clinic and support its mission of research, clinical trials and treatment.
The addition of the clinic could increase UTMC’s dementia care patient visits to more than 6,000 over the next five years.
The Memory Care Forums connect key professionals so that they may share best practices, field research, and practical solutions for improving quality memory care. Hands-on approaches, train-the-trainer sessions, experiential demonstrations, and rich discussions are at the core of each Memory Care Forum.