More MS news articles for Nov 2001

A home away from home

Doctor reaches out to find residences for multiple sclerosis patients

Posted Saturday, November 10, 2001
BY MARK WILOWS Times Correspondent

As a neurologist, Dr. Mridula Prasad works primarily with multiple sclerosis patients.

Besides helping to treat their disease, she also finds living units or small homes for people who suffer from severe disabilities.

Prasad, 52, of Munster, is founder/medical director of People Helping People, an organization in Munster that began in 1997. The goal is to place people in a home atmosphere as opposed to a nursing home, giving them a chance to feel independent and try to live a normal life.

"I believe that people need to be with people as a way of feeling better. The emotional support each patient receives from one another is tremendous,'' Prasad said. "A home gives them (patients) a light at the end of the tunnel, where in a nursing home the feeling is the end of the road.''

Multiple sclerosis patients are like anyone else in that they have energetic brains and high energy levels, but they often are confined to beds or wheelchairs because of their disabilities. When the body slows down, so does the mind, Prasad said.

Prasad, a native of India, has been in America since 1976. She completed her second residency at Loyola University Medical Center in Chicago, where she worked with multiple sclerosis patients.

"Dr. Prasad is a very caring doctor, and is very dedicated to her patients,'' said Mike Sullivan, board member of People Helping People.

"It's just remarkable all the time and energy and financial support she gives her patients.''

Prasad's patients cannot live on their own, or otherwise with their families. And most patients are entitled to home health care through insurance.

Independence is seen as a key to better health. The homes have phones, TVs and everyone plans his or her own menu.

People Helping People has four homes throughout Northwest Indiana. Two to three people reside in a home.

The first home was financially backed by Prasad. The Methodist Hospitals donated another home as did The First United Methodist Church of Valparaiso. A fourth home will open within a month.

"I always look for a home that needs to be renovated, and that can be turned into a home for people with disabilities,'' Prasad said. Multiple sclerosis often strikes people in their 50s. The patients have good cognitive behavior as opposed to patients with Alzheimer's disease, Prasad said.

"All I really want to accomplish is to someday go ahead with bigger projects by getting more homes and enlist other people to help and become involved,'' Prasad said. "I want to provide a strong support system in the community.''

©2001 copyright