Feb. 8, 2021

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UMMC gets Huntington's designation; chef earns culinary kudo

Medical Center earns prestigious Huntington's designation

UMMC has been chosen as one of 54 Huntington’s disease care facilities in the nation to receive the designation of Huntington's Disease Society of America Center of Excellence.

The designation goes to institutions with stellar multidisciplinary care teams that have expertise in Huntington’s disease and that share an exemplary commitment to providing comprehensive care.

Huntington Disease Society of America Center of Excellence

UMMC joins medical centers and institutions in five states in being named to the Centers of Excellence program. They include the Barrow Neurological Institute in Arizona, the Medical University of South Carolina, the Rowan University School of Medicine and Rutgers University RWJ Medical School in New Jersey, the University of Arkansas and the University of Cincinnati.

Huntington’s disease is a fatal genetic disorder that causes the progressive breakdown of nerve cells in the brain. It deteriorates a person’s physical and mental abilities during his or her prime working years and has no cure. The symptoms of HD have been described as simultaneously having, ALS, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

The strategic expansion of the HDSA Centers of Excellence program allows expanded access to expert Huntington’s disease clinical care and clinical trial opportunities to more families across the United States.

HDSA Centers of Excellence provide an elite team approach to Huntington’s disease care and research. By pulling in a neurologist, psychiatrist, neuropsychologist, genetic counselor, social worker, registered nurse care coordinator, speech therapist, physical and occupational therapists and other specialties, UMMC offer patients with HD a full array of care. That includes education about their disease and how it impacts the entire family.

“Our genetic counseling service is the only one that can provide relevant HD services in Mississippi,” said Dr. Juebin Huang, an associate professor of neurology and an HD care specialist. “What’s unique for Huntington’s at UMMC is that we offer care as a real team.”

“The expansion of the HDSA Centers of Excellence program ensures that more families affected by Huntington’s disease have increased access to expert and comprehensive care for this devastating rare brain disease,” said Dr. Victor Sung, chair of HDSA’s National Board of Trustees and director of the HDSA Center of Excellence at the University of Alabama-Birmingham. “Additionally, clinical research conducted at many HDSA Centers of Excellence is vital to the development of potentially life-changing treatments to improve the lives of everyone affected by HD.”

Applications to become an HDSA Center of Excellence are open to all clinics in the United States who share HDSA’s commitment to high-quality, comprehensive care and access to clinical research.

UMMC executive chef takes culinary honorable mention


Luke Hanna, regional executive chef for Morrison Healthcare and UMMC, received an honorable mention in a “Health Care Culinary Contest” hosted by Menus of Change, Health Care Without Harm and Practice Greenhealth.

The contest, which recognizes plant-forward recipes from hospital food and nutrition services across the country, chose Hanna’s “cheese” grits and grillades as one of seven dishes to feature on its blog in January.

The meal substitutes a winter squash and cashew sauce for cheese and grilled vegetables and mushrooms for meat. It’s a spin on the cuisine Hanna grew up eating in Maurepas, Louisiana.

“I come from a family that does not waste anything and if the family hunts were not fruitful, then they had to depend on the vegetables that were grown in the garden,” Hanna told the judges. “You will see that with a couple techniques in this recipe: mushroom stock, green onion usage . . . (and) being from south Louisiana, grits is just a household staple.

“My ancestors would turn in their grave if that isn’t the best grits you have ever had.”

Cathy Taylor, director of retail services for Food and Nutrition at UMMC, said Hanna is a “talented and creative” chef and that his grits and grillades is “delicious as well as beautifully presented.”

“The dish (Hanna) created was also featured for sale at the Wiser Café and sold out,” said Tim Liskey, director of Food and Nutrition at UMMC. “With the trends in food changing in the market, it was refreshing to see his creation being so well received inside our hospital.”