Thrive by IU Health

February 25, 2024

Gift adds crucial specialists to IU Health Neuroscience

Gift adds crucial specialists to IU Health Neuroscience

A recent $1.5 million gift established the Kennedy Hoffman and Koorsen Family Fund for Neuro-ophthalmology and Neuroimmunology at IU Health Adult Academic Medical Center.

"I hope this fund allows for continued growth and discoveries in the fields of neuro-ophthalmology and neuroimmunology, so patients have access to amazing physicians right here in Central Indiana,” said Kelly Hoffman at an event celebrating her family’s gift to IU Health. "We hope Kennedy’s fund will encourage physicians and fellows to want to stay in Indiana.”

When Kelly’s daughter Kennedy was quite young, she was diagnosed with myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein antibody-associated disease, also known as MOGAD. It’s a rare inflammatory disease that attacks the fatty substance protecting nerve fibers in the optic nerves, brain and spinal cord. When Kennedy received her diagnosis, her family didn’t know where to turn. They initially had to take Kennedy out of state for treatment.

“I never knew the importance of these professions and how few physicians are in this field, especially in our home state of Indiana,” Kelly said.

Five years ago, IU Health recruited Dr. Melissa Ko, a neuro-ophthalmologist who specializes in the kinds of rare neurological diseases Kennedy faced. She continues to be Kennedy’s doctor, while treating other adult and pediatric patients and training the next generation of specialists. The family’s gift recruits and supports the highly specialized physicians who work with the complexities of neuro-ophthalmology and neuroimmunology.

“We face a national shortage of neuro-ophthalmologists, and this shortage impacts access to care in Indiana,” Dr. Ko said. “This gift enables us to mentor, train and equip the next generation.”

The Koorsen family are longtime supporters of neuroscience care at IU Health.

“This gift continues a rich history of support from Judy Koorsen and her late husband, Randy,” said Dr. Laurie Gutmann, chair of the Department of Neurology at Indiana University School of Medicine. “I know Randy would be pleased to see what he and Judy started carried on by the next generation.”

A plaque recognizing Kennedy and her family’s support now hangs at IU Health Neuroscience Center, just down the hall from a similar plaque honoring her grandparents.

“Philanthropy provides us the opportunity to invest in education, training and other services that we aren’t able to cover in the current reimbursement model,” said Dr. Michele Saysana, chief medical officer at IU Health Adult Academic Medical Center. “Philanthropy allows us to do more. We can’t make Indiana healthier without philanthropic dollars.”

Heather Perdue, IU Health Foundation Vice President, Campaigns and Philanthropy, noted that the Hoffman and Koorsen family gift was matched by IU Health, doubling the impact of their generosity to $3 million. “Our All the Difference campaign is devoted to better health for all Hoosiers,” said Perdue. “This gift ensures that even people with rare diseases can access world-class healthcare close to home.”

To explore options for making a gift close to your own heart, visit the IU Health Foundation website, or contact IU Health Foundation Vice President, Campaigns and Philanthropy, Heather Perdue.

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