News & Events

Neurologist honored as top patient advocate

February 21, 2014

Backus and Windham Hospital Neurologist Anthony Alessi, MD, has been honored with the American Academy of Neurology’s Kenneth M. Viste, Jr., MD, Patient Advocate of the Year Award for his humanitarian work in Haiti and for advocating for athletes who’ve been injured in their sport.

Dr. Alessi began his work in Haiti even before the devastating 2010 earthquake and has returned regularly, providing neurological care and advocating for the poor.

“One of the big problems in Haiti is the lack of neurologic care,” said Dr. Alessi. “There are so many children born with birth defects due to poor prenatal care. We see a lot of children with uncontrolled seizures and cerebral palsy. It’s not like [the United States].”

Under an AAN established program, Dr. Alessi and other neurologists each spend a week in Haiti seeing patients with neurological concerns. He’s pleased with the response of other neurologists who’ve joined the effort so far.

“It’s hard to believe that there’s a country in this hemisphere where there’s such a degree of poverty,” Dr. Alessi said. “We have to take small steps. I can say there are more neurologists coming to Haiti and there are more people getting neurologic care since the earthquake.”

Dr. Alessi also serves as chair of the AAN’s Sports Section, which advocates for athletes and provides education about neurological issues related to sports. In 2013, Dr. Alessi was featured in an ESPN “Outside the Lines” story on the prevalence of concussions in college football.

Kenneth M. Viste, Jr., MD, was a distinguished neurologist and tireless advocate for his patients. Each year the Kenneth M. Viste, Jr., MD, Patient Advocate of the Year Award recognizes one neurologist who exemplifies Dr. Viste’s leadership and commitment to advocating for the patient community.