Holy Name Medical Center Blog

Treating Patients, Educating Physicians

Posted by Mary Ann Picone, MD
Medical Director, MS Center at Holy Name Medical Center on January 3, 2020
Mary Ann Picone, MD Medical Director, MS Center at Holy Name Medical Center

Craig Mainor's choice of doctor and hospital made a huge difference after he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2002.

After a doctor told him that the disease that affects the nervous system would likely render him immobile, Mainor took the suggestion of friends and went to see Mary Ann Picone, MD, director of the Alfiero & Lucia Palestroni Foundation Multiple Sclerosis Center at Holy Name Medical Center.

"Dr. Picone's bedside manner was very welcoming and not dark as the first doctor I had. She said there were a lot of advancements that could slow the progression of MS," recalled Mainor.

Mary Ann Picone, MD Medical Director, MS Center at Holy Name Medical Center

She was right. Now 47, Mainor is a longtime patient of Dr. Picone's. He is feeling good and walks or bikes the seven-plus miles to work each day to his job in Newark from his home in Union. "Mortality is a great motivator," he said.

The MS Center provides integrated, holistic care that includes accurate diagnostics, personalized patient care, full access to all Holy Name services, and advanced therapies through clinical trials.

Sharing Her Knowledge

In her decades of practice, Dr. Picone has seen many examples of physicians who were unaware of both the symptoms of MS and the latest treatments for the disease that affects more than a million people nationwide. In medical school there is limited exposure to neurology in general, and MS specifically, said Dr. Picone.

Patients often recounted misdiagnoses and reported that their primary care doctors or specialists didn't understand MS. Picone saw the need for a resource that brought together a lot of the issues involved in treating the complex disease.

Mary Ann Picone, MD Medical Director, MS Center at Holy Name Medical Center

With two other doctors she edited a book that was recently published called Multiple Sclerosis for the Non-Neurologist, now available on Amazon. The book features a host of contributors and information on the latest advances in treatment. There are now 16 different medications that can be used for MS, and clinical trials (including some at Holy Name) are underway that indicate more advances.

Chapters of the book deal with many aspects of treatment, including monitoring requirements for patients, potential risks and effects, and possible drug interactions of various medications.

MS patients rely on their neurologists but coordination with other healthcare providers is essential. The book is meant to be a resource to help physicians and medical residents, including OB/GYNs, dermatologists, ophthalmologists, dentists, and podiatrists, as well as physical therapists and other specialists, provide comprehensive care for MS patients.

"It's very important that we work together as a team to provide the best treatment for patients," said Dr. Picone. For instance, many MS patients are women of child-bearing age so it's important they get the proper care through pregnancy and childbirth. With MS patients now doing better and living longer, many have orthopedic issues that need to be addressed with their condition in mind.

The book contains chapters on legal resources, medical equipment and more. "It's important to know what type of resources are out there to help people," said Dr. Picone.

Mary Ann Picone, MD, is a board-certified neurologist with almost 30 years of experience in the field of multiple sclerosis. She is widely recognized for her clinical expertise, research acumen and comprehensive approach to patient care. Dr. Picone has been medical director of the Alfiero & Lucia Palestroni Foundation MS Center at Holy Name Medical Center since 1993, and is a member of the Clinical Advisory Board of the New Jersey Metro Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

If you or someone you love would like to find out more about MS symptoms and early detection, please call the MS Center at Holy Name at 201-837-0727 or visit holyname.org/MSCenter/.

To read Craig Mainor's story, visit https://www.holyname.org/PatientStories/mainor.aspx