This story appeared in the UConn Health Journal fall 2020 issue.
There is no easy fix for psoriasis.
For the more than 3 million people in the U.S. with the common autoimmune disorder, finding the right treatment can take a lot of trial and error.
There are many different options to consider to treat the symptoms – red patches and dry, cracked skin; itching; pitted or thickened nails – and one size doesn’t fit all. Once the proper treatment is identified, it may involve many hours spent at the dermatologist’s office for injectable treatments, hand or foot soaks, or phototherapy.
Within the next few months, however, psoriasis patients at UConn Health can expect a much more pleasant experience with the opening of the new UConn Health Dermatology Psoriasis Center. Because of the prevalence, the seriousness of the disease, and the varied treatment options, the dermatology department at UConn Health recognized the need for a center dedicated solely to psoriasis.
“We try to treat psoriasis from a few different angles with different modalities” including topical medicines,
ultraviolet light therapy (also known as phototherapy), or injectables, biologics, and pills, says Dr. Philip Kerr, chair of the Department of Dermatology. “It’s a disease that has a profound effect on people’s quality of life and is associated with metabolic syndrome, so it’s necessary to have a multifactorial approach to treating psoriasis and giving our patients the best possible outcome.”
All of those treatment options will be available at the Psoriasis Center, administered by an experienced staff.
“We have a team of nurses who are experts in phototherapy and administering injectable medications, and the doctors all have a special interest in psoriasis,” says Kerr.
Anne Horbatuck, RN, UConn Health vice president of ambulatory services, adds, “The staff has been working in this area for quite a while. They’re cross-trained in all of these psoriasis treatments. It’s a great team that works together really well, and we’re thrilled to have them.”
The team is looking forward to relocating to the new Psoriasis Center, where all of the services will be available in one accessible location that is easy to navigate, according to Kerr.
“The space is brand new, newly renovated, and it has a really nice, high-quality, elegant feel to it. There is plenty of room, and all of the services are located right there,” he says. “We started from scratch and designed it specifically for the Psoriasis Center and our patients and staff.”
The new center includes a phototherapy room, exam rooms, and procedure rooms. It is also centrally located within the main hospital, giving patients easy access to the food court, gift shop, and laboratory services.
The dermatology clinical research team also will be conducting research and clinical trials to advance the field and find new and innovative treatments for psoriasis, the exact cause of which remains unknown. Patients of the Psoriasis Center will have the opportunity to participate in these clinical trials if they are interested and meet certain criteria.
For home therapies, UConn Health recently opened its own specialty pharmacy, and one of the first specialties serviced was dermatology.
“Our specialty pharmacy has a designated dermatology pharmacy liaison to assist patients with every aspect of their pharmacological care,” says Kimberly Metcalf, Pharm.D., associate vice president for pharmacy and ancillary services. “Our pharmacy liaisons are an invaluable resource if a patient needs financial assistance or help with navigating through insurance benefits and copays, coordinating with providers, and managing refills.”
All of these elements combine to create a comprehensive, convenient, patient-focused psoriasis center that will offer an unparalleled experience for patients, according to Kerr.
“Our mission is to advance the field and offer cutting-edge treatments, and we hope that by providing a new, fresh space with all of our services under one roof that we can do just that,” he says.