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Healthcare Heroes 2020

Jessica Zwerling, MD, MS

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Photo courtesy of Dr. Jessica Zwerling

Director, Montefiore Hudson Valley Center of Excellence for Alzheimer’s Disease (CEAD);
Associate Professor of Neurology;
Program Director, UCNS Geriatric Neurology Fellowship;
Director, Memory Disorders Center at Blondell;
Associate Director, Center for the Aging Brain;
Clinical Director, Einstein Aging Study

After observing a relative and family caregivers struggle with the challenges of Alzheimer’s disease as she was growing up, Dr. Jessica Zwerling was inspired to make a difference.

A graduate of Cornell University and University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences with NIH research training in cognitive neurology, she helped establish the Montefiore Einstein Center for the Aging Brain in Yonkers in 2014. She leads a grant that designates the multidisciplinary team as a Center of Excellence for Alzheimer’s Disease (CEAD).

CEAD provides patients detailed assessments and diagnoses by a team of neurologists, geriatricians, neuropsychologists, geriatric psychiatrists, social workers, and rehabilitation-medicine specialists. They develop comprehensive-care plans that include recommendations for caregivers and referrals to social-service and support programs. Since Montefiore serves a diverse population, its care-coordination team has extensive training in culturally sensitive care.

“The goal is to provide seamless medical care and follow-up support that treats patients and their caregivers as a dyad who are both burdened by this disease,” says Zwerling.

She also created a pre-health visit questionnaire, to screen caregiver stress levels.  Since early diagnosis is necessary to enabling proper care and long-term planning, Zwerling led the development of a guide for primary-care physicians. As a professor at Montefiore’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine, she leads training in geriatric neurology and has obtained foundation funding for a bicultural cognitive neuropsychology fellowship and technology-assisted educational programs.

Dr. Zwerling’s expertise and pioneering work in comprehensive care have earned her recognition on both the state and national levels.

“My goal is to break down the barriers between healthcare institutions and community providers, to offer seamless care for the patient-caregiver dyad burdened so heavily by [Alzheimer’s] disease.”

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