MADISON, Wis. – UW Health is making history in the state this month opening the only clinic focused solely on lupus patients and addressing their needs. The disease primarily affects women ages 14 to 44, according to the natural resource center on lupus.
Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that can affect the skin, joints and multiple organs. Jordana Lenon, knows the impacts of the disease firsthand.
“The disease affects your whole body. This is why I think the lupus clinic is such a good idea. The disease needs a lot more visibility. There are people out there that probably have all these symptoms and have no idea they are part of lupus,” Lenon said.
Lenon has spent her life enjoying sports as an avid skier, runner and sailor. Seven years ago that all changed when she was diagnosed with the disease. Lenon had started noticing different symptoms two years before she was diagnosed in 2011, but said her doctors at first didn’t think it was lupus.
“My doctors missed the signs and I missed the signs. Maybe the doctors themselves would have been more aware if there was this clinic, instead of lupus kind of being in the background,” Lenon said.
UW Health is working to identify signs of lupus earlier, to prevent potential kidney disease and provide comprehensive care in the state’s only lupus clink. The clinic located in a building they already own at UW Health’s 1 South Park St building in Madison. At appointments patients will have access to arthritis and immune specialist, for lupus treatment and a social worker.
“We try to help them treat patient as well as treating the disease and help them in regards to if they are depressed, financially challenged, they would get support or resources to help them,” said director of the clinic, Dr. Shivani Garg.
Aside from physical impacts, Garg said the clinic is addressing emotional needs that often go untreated.
“There is a huge disconnect or gap between what patients perceive and what the physicians perceive in regards to in regards to disease or how disease is impacting their life. This clinic focuses on that gap,” she explained.
“This is all to understand the barriers that are leading to what patients are feeling or why the disease is not controlled,” Garg said.
The clinic is a new support system Lenon believes can help her and 16,000 other people diagnosed every year.
“Many people are out there walking around in pain and have something. We all just try to be strong and we all need to be there and help each other out as much as we can,” Lennon said.
The clinic will run every other Monday morning from 8 a.m. to noon and 1 to 2 p.m. Garg said there is room for the clinic to expand to provide an all-day clinic on Monday if there are enough patients in need.