Good Shepherd MS Wellness Program Celebrates 20 Years of Helping People Live Their Best Lives

September 04, 2020

In 1997, the Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Center for Lehigh Valley conducted a survey to better understand the unmet needs of the MS population. The survey findings indicated the need for MS education, modified exercise and a means for social interaction for those with MS.

In 2000, the Good Shepherd MS Wellness Program was born.

In the two decades since its inception, the MS Wellness Program has grown from three original members to 30 active members who attend weekly meetings. The program has impacted thousands of lives over the years through outpatient therapy, community support groups and weekly meetings, said Emily Ackerman, MS, CCC-SLP, MSCS, who manages the Good Shepherd MS Wellness Program.

20 Years of Growth

Reaching a 20-year milestone speaks to not only the quality of the MS Wellness Program, but also the dedication of the many members across the years.

“For some, it marks 20 years of friendship, their MS diagnosis or the anniversary of taking the reins and better managing their MS,” Ackerman said. “The program has grown over the years as Good Shepherd continues to extend the services we offer, the people we serve and the region we cover.”

Outside of weekly meetings, the MS Wellness Program organizes community symposiums, presents at community events and universities, and actively collaborates with the National MS Society as Partners in Care.

In 2020 — amid a global pandemic — the MS Wellness Program pivoted to make all services virtual, ensuring that Good Shepherd continues to offer quality and supportive services to the MS population.

Positive Day-to-Day Impact

By providing opportunities for social interaction, education and physical activity, Good Shepherd’s innovative program aims to promote and maintain the health and well-being of people living with MS.

“For most, this program has become a part of their daily routine and serves as an integral role in maintaining wellness despite the diagnosis of MS,” Ackerman said. “By getting to know others who share similar experiences and participating in group activities, they learn to better manage the day-to-day challenges of MS. They often experience a renewed sense of empowerment and are able to focus on what they can do to live their best lives with MS.”

Monica K. was diagnosed with MS more than 20 years ago. A Good Shepherd patient and an active member of the MS Wellness Program, Monica continued with the program’s virtual services during COVID-19 and social distancing guidelines.

 “Overall, it’s a great program,” Monica said.

To learn more about the Good Shepherd MS Wellness Program, click here or call 610-778-1069.