As someone who lives with a number of autoimmunedisease- related issues and symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS), Tricia Simpkins, a lifelong South Jersey resident, has complex medical needs. But she never quite felt like she was getting effective solutions— that is, until, she became a patient of Dr. Steven Bromley. Simpkins says that Dr. Bromley “works tirelessly” to find solutions that work. He goes to fight for his patients in a way Simpkins says she had never seen before.
“I’ve seen other neurologists and the biggest difference is that Dr. Bromley never treats you like a number,” adds Simpkins. “He is so genuine and takes so much time to really figure out what you need. I feel like family when I’m there.”
Simpkins sees Dr. Bromley at the South Jersey MS Center at Bromley Neurology in Audubon, a one-of-a-kind, state-of-the-art private practice that treats a variety of neurological conditions. Dr. Bromley built this center with the knowledge that South Jersey needed more effective independent care for patients with MS, and other complex neurological conditions. Neuroimmunology—the connection between the nervous system and immune system disease—is a major focus for the center.
“Prior to opening this center, patients had to travel to receive the kind of care they needed,” Dr. Bromley says. “Imagine having an MS exacerbation while at the Shore and having to travel all the way to Philadelphia, just to be seen. I grew up and still live in South Jersey, and I saw a need for immediate neurological care that is right here.”
Though Dr. Bromley has been affiliated in training and practice with many regional hospitals over the years including Cooper, Jefferson, Kennedy, UPenn, and Virtua, to name a few, he chose to open the South Jersey MS Center with no attached affiliations. Not being owned and operated by a large corporate hospital system gives Dr. Bromley options—and he says that’s what his patients need most.
“It allows us to work directly with a number of different large hospital systems with no road blocks,” he explains. “I have great relationships with the surrounding area hospitals and have worked with many of them in different contexts. But being independent, I don’t have non-medical, financially driven middle managers to work through to get my patients what they need. It allows me to provide much more immediate and personalized care. We also take most insurance plans.”
Dr. Bromley likens it to being like “Switzerland,” in that they don’t have to associate with just one hospital but can benefit from the brilliance of all of them. Dr. Bromley says he has built relationships “over the bridge” and helped give South Jersey a voice in the academic conversations on MS with doctors in Philadelphia and New York, places where Dr. Bromley has previously trained and carried medical licenses. He reports that “other neurologists in the area who do not specialize in MS refer patients to our center and we happily share in their complex management.”
The center currently consists of three neurologists, a nurse practitioner and many highly skilled infusion nurses. The center also has the largest private and independent infusion suite in the state of New Jersey. “It is by design,” says Dr. Bromley, “that our center can obtain and administer cutting-edge IV medications for MS and other immune-mediated disorders in a calm and relaxing place associated with comfortable chairs, coffee stations, and even opportunities to order meals off a menu during a patient’s treatment.”
If patients do order food for themselves or their family, Dr. Bromley picks up the bill. It’s all part of making patients feel at home during difficult times.
Pamela L. Ward, RN, BSN, director of nursing for the center, calls it a “warm and friendly environment” and says the suite has soft lighting, television, Wi-Fi, and even an area for resting and sleeping. Ward says they always want patients to know that they come first.
“Our infusion suite is also a very supportive environment for patients and their families,” Ward continues. “It is welcoming, which makes it easy for people to talk about their personal medical problems. By sharing, patients learn new ways of managing the difficulties associated with their individual medical issues.”
For Simpkins, who says she normally doesn’t like opening up about her medical issues, she says that the welcoming environment of the center makes it easier to talk to others. And as someone who has been dealing with these issues for a long time, she is often able to offer her wisdom and experience to patients who are just beginning their journey.
Dr. Bromley is also bringing state-of-theart care to patients by introducing clinical research trials that South Jersey residents never had access to before.
“We are constantly diving into new realms,” Dr. Bromley says. “And now that we are a part of many clinical trials, we can bring national— and even international—opportunities for investigational therapies home to the people of South Jersey. In many cases, these opportunities were never possible before in this region. Our goal is to provide the newest therapies in a quick, comfortable and caring way.”
Immediacy of care is a major focus of the center. Dr. Bromley says that the model of care that he has developed for patients is focused on urgency. “In fact, we are an urgent care for our patients,” he says.
“I truly believe that MS patients don’t belong sitting in a waiting room waiting for hours to be seen, often by someone they do not know,” Dr. Bromley explains. “When they have an exacerbation of their MS and are feeling debilitated, there should be no waiting time involved. Our patients can call us any time and just come in. Within minutes I can get them set up in the infusion suite with the medication they need. Because of the urgency of care we provide, we have seen massively improved outcomes.”
The center’s second location, opened just six months ago in Linwood by the Jersey Shore, is contributing to the capacity to reach more people in need. The office is similar (except being a bit smaller), and patients do not have to travel as far to be treated. Since patients may come in monthly or even weekly for infusion treatments, this added location offers even more convenience. And since nurses rotate to both locations, they see the same friendly faces no matter which office they visit.
For Simpkins, who has seen improvement with her own medical issues, she says that there aren’t “enough good things she could say,” about her experience. But she sums it up quite well by saying this: “I want other people to know that Dr. Bromley will do everything in his power to try and get you better. Even if it’s a complex issue, he won’t stop trying. He’s one of the most fabulous physicians—and people— I’ve met.”
South Jersey MS Center at Bromley Neurology
739 S. White Horse Pike, Audubon
Photography by Alison Dunlap
Published (and copyrighted) in South Jersey Magazine, Volume 14, Issue 12 (March 2018).
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