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August 23, 2019

7/13/2019 7:30:00 AM
Tick-borne illness center to open in Woodruff
Medical team members sought
Abigail Bostwick
Of The Lakeland Times

Construction of an innovative medical center focused on tick-borne illnesses is underway in Woodruff.

The Tick Borne Center of Excellence aims to be a location in the Midwest - one of the only in the United States - that will, effectively diagnose and treat patients.

"When a patient enters the center, they will be greeted with an open space decorated in soothing colors and comfortable decor," noted Elizabeth Gehring, Howard Young Foundation donor relations and communications. "The goal is for patients to feel that this is a welcoming space for an open discussion about themselves, a place that treats the mind and spirit as well as the body."

A launch for the center is being prepared, Gehring said.

During this time, an advisory board is being formed which will aid in guiding and directing treatment and research.

"The impressive list of advisory board members includes world-renowned tick-borne illness specialists including Dr. Brian Fallon from Columbia University and Dr. Neil Spector from Duke University," Gehring said. "Their expertise and reputable reputations will allow the center to expand its clinical and research programs, as well as its reach across the nation."

Led by the Open Medicine Institute (OMI), the data-driven center will have cutting edge diagnostic equipment and advanced research methods. They will work collaboratively with patients, referring physicians and regional specialists to best identify and treat tick-borne illnesses.

The Howard Young Foundation has already raised a healthy portion of their campaign goal to support the opening of the center through community and organization donations alone. $3.5 million is their total goal.

"The Howard Young Foundation also was pleased to announce the Tick-Borne Illness Center of Excellence will be located in Howard Young Medical Center," Gehring reported. "While the center is led by OMI and independent from Ascension, the decision to lease space in the Howard Young Medical Center was made to give patients access to additional specialists services that they may need as part of their treatment plan."

At the OMI helm is Dr. Andy Kogelnik, director, a Stanford-trained physician trained in infectious disease, internationally recognized and dedicated for more than 20 years in work which has advanced many medical needs - including Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses.

"Patients will experience an approach to the treatment of tick-borne diseases that incorporates a complete approach," Gehring said. "Patients will actively participate in their care by providing information, ongoing feedback and a willingness to be open to many treatment modalities. Determining why a patient is susceptible to a specific disease will also be a focus at the center. Often addressing the underlying factors which make a person susceptible will maximize the likelihood of a positive outcome."

Interim director at the local center is Dr. Thomas Sult, family medicine specialist based in New London, Minn., who has been practicing for 30 years and specializes in family medicine.

The Tick Borne Center is excited to provide a collaborative approach to comprehensive patient care, beginning with precision-testing diagnosis, treatment designed for the patient, based on relevant data, a doctor who dedicates to the patient throughout the treatment and ongoing follow-up care.

"The center will be unique because it focuses on a full spectrum of clinical services as well as advancing research in the field of tick-borne illnesses," Gehring continued. "All patients are encouraged to participate in ongoing research initiatives. As the number of patients who participate grows, the amount of data increases, allowing for more meaningful analyses. This will contribute to more robust insights and uncover diagnostic and treatment options."

Gehring noted the Howard Young Foundation receives calls on a daily basis from people who would like to be a patient at the clinic. A wait list is available.

To find out more, or to help the campaign, visit


Additionally, the Open Medicine Institute is still in the process of putting together their team of excellence. Anyone interested in employment as a physician or registered nurse can send their information and specific references to or call 715-203-1616.

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