In Memoriam: Fred D. Sheftell, MD, 1941-2011
Our friend, highly esteemed colleague, founding partner of the New England Center for Headache, Fred Sheftell, MD, FAHS, lost his valiant battle with cancer in the spring of 2011. His memory lives on at the New England Institute for Neurology and Headache.
Fred loved what he did. He loved caring for his patients and working with his colleagues at the New England Center for Headache. He loved Headache Medicine and the Headache Cooperative of New England.
Throughout his busy life, Fred was cited as one of the "Best Doctors in America". Fred co-authored 11 books and 200 peer-reviewed articles on headache. He lectured throughout the world and appeared on numerous TV and radio programs to speak about headache and related issues.
His wonderful musicianship is well known, and he produced a CD of his songs about headaches: "Migraine Blues".
Fred was the president of the American Headache Society (AHS) from 2008-2010. He chaired ACHE, the AHS patient education organization, for over 10 years, and founded the World Headache Alliance, a patient-oriented group of the International Headache Society. Fred's commitment to patient care and education impacted and inspired all who knew him.
"I am excited about the opening of The New England Institute for Neurology and Headache (NEINH) in Stamford, CT and the opportunity to be involved in it from the start. It carries forward the tradition and treatment model of the The New England Center for Headache (NECH) which I started with Fred Sheftell in 1979. It was the first comprehensive, multidisciplinary headache center between New York and Boston and one of only six in the country. Dr. Randall Weeks and Dr. Steve Baskin joined our staff early on, and we practiced together for over 30 years.
The purpose of establishing a center such as NECH was to help patients with complicated headache problems who were under-diagnosed and inadequately treated. We started in Cos Cob, CT, grew rapidly, and quickly moved to bigger offices in Stamford with a full time Center staffed by 15 employees. We helped thousands of headache sufferers from the Northeast with some patients coming from as far away as Brazil and Europe. We provided a comprehensive evaluation (lasting four to six hours) with follow-up visits with the doctor every three to four weeks until the patient had improved and was stable. Most patients were impressed with the expertise of the doctors, the amount of time that the doctor spent with them, and their access to treatment. Patients were asked to pay at the time of service (and collect from their insurance companies afterwards). When patients realized the level of full service we provided for the cost, our commitment to our patients, and the outcomes patients had, they embraced our novel system. They rarely left us even when they were stable and doing well. They returned once per year for a check up and to learn about the latest treatments available. We were always available for them if they needed help.
The other Founding Director (Fred Sheftell, MD) was the Medical Director of NECH after my relocation to Los Angeles several years ago. After Fred’s passing four years ago, there was no full-time physician to partner with Drs. Weeks and Baskin. Thirty years after it started, NECH had become only a skeleton of its fully functioning days. Without a full time headache expert physician, it could not provide optimal care.
I am pleased to learn that Dr. Peter McAllister (a nationally known headache specialist who has practiced in CT for 18 years), will be the full time Medical Director. Along with Drs. Weeks and Baskin, , the Center will opened in the Spring of 2014. The plan is to continue the NECH legacy of a mutli-specialty clinic with expert care, easy accessibility for acute care or information, a high rate of success, and cutting edge clinical research at one of the top Headache and Neurology Centers in the US.
I am proud to be involved with this new facility and will strive to help the Directors to make it the best it can be."