New Orleans-area residents who suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) will soon breathe easier thanks to a generous gift to the Tulane University School of Medicine from the Dorney-Koppel Family Charitable Foundation.
Construction recently began on the Grace Anne Dorney Pulmonary and Cardiac Rehabilitation Center at Tulane Medical Center’s downtown campus. The center is named after Grace Anne Dorney-Koppel, the wife of senior CBS Sunday Morning contributor and former Nightline anchor Ted Koppel. More importantly, though, Dorney-Koppel is president of the COPD Foundation and a longtime advocate for sufferers of chronic breathing conditions.
“Not being able to catch your breath – and the fear that your next breath might not be coming – is like drowning. Nothing is more frightening,” said Dorney-Koppel, who became a national spokesperson for COPD patients after being diagnosed with the disease herself more than 15 years ago. “Pulmonary rehabilitation is a breathing program based on the highest level of scientific evidence, and it can improve patient’s lives.
“Our clinics are intended to empower people to learn about the management of their disease – to exercise, while being monitored – and to gradually get their lives back.”
COPD is a nationwide problem, Dorney-Koppel said, noting that although an estimated 30 million Americans have the disease, only 15 million have been diagnosed. Also, COPD is the nation’s only disease in the top 10 leading causes of death that is seeing its numbers increase in recent years.
The Dorney-Koppel Family Charitable Foundation has helped fund the creation of seven such pulmonary and cardiac rehabilitation clinics in Maryland and West Virginia over the last several years, with additional clinics now under construction in North Carolina and Louisiana, as well.
“We’re excited for the resources this center will bring to bear to help treat this patient population,” said Dr. Joseph Lasky, a pulmonologist with the Tulane Lung Center. “COPD is the third-leading cause of death in the United States, and it is also the second-leading cause of serious long-term disability. This generous gift not only helps provide new space and equipment, but also access to the experience and findings of other, similar clinics.
“And we, of course, look forward to leveraging the experience of an academic medical center like Tulane Health System to enhance the care at the existing clinics, as well.”
The new Tulane center, which is expected to open to patients next month, will be located on the hospital’s seventh floor. The space provides a comfortable treatment and exercise environment with a great deal of natural light and beautiful views of the New Orleans skyline. The location is also conveniently adjacent to the hospital’s pulmonary clinic and respiratory therapy department.
The total cost of the project represents an investment of nearly $480,000 in equipment, construction and human resources.
“Our region has no shortage of people who suffer from a wide range of breathing and breathing-related ailments, from asthma and chronic bronchitis to emphysema and cardiovascular disease,” said Tulane Health System President and CEO Dr. William Lunn. “We are immensely grateful to the Dorney-Koppel family for their generous gift.
“We have been given a great opportunity – and with it, a great responsibility – to improve the health status of our community and our region. We look forward to meeting this challenge.”