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Holistic Care in Central Oregon: Gregory Ferenz, DO

Dr. Ferenz is the new ALS Clinic Medical Director at Pacific Crest Neurology in Bend, OR. He speaks on the impact of comprehensive care that includes quality of life assessments for ALS patients. 

Dr. Ferenz wasn’t always interested in neurology. He loved the idea of being a family doctor, with a desire to build long-term relationships with people as a touchstone throughout their lives. What mattered to Dr. Ferenz was, “developing those relationships to foster quality of life, getting to know them and their families, and being supportive of them over long periods of time.” 

When he reached medical school in Philadelphia and rotated through each specialty, Dr. Ferenz quickly realized family medicine wasn’t for him. The pressure to see a high volume of patients in a short span of time left him uncertain about what to do, removed from his initial passion of cultivating meaningful relationships. He ultimately found his niche in neurology, rediscovering the qualities he was initially so drawn to within this specialty: meaningful time with patients and continuity of care throughout life

Dr. Ferenz’s interest in neurology is both professional and personal, as his grandmother had Alzheimer’s disease. He stresses that neurological issues are more common than we realize, saying, “Every person in their lifetime is affected either personally, or in relationship with someone with a neurological disease.”  

From Memory Care to ALS Clinic Director 

During his year-long fellowship in clinical neurology at Pennsylvania State University, Dr. Ferenz worked closely with Dr. Zachary Simmons. Dr. Simmons founded and still directs the ALS Clinic at the University. As Greg’s model and guide, Dr. Simmons introduced Dr. Ferenz to the multidisciplinary ALS Clinic model while demonstrating the power of compassionate, high-quality care – a model of care that continues to inform Dr. Ferenz’s work today. 

By the time he moved to Central Oregon in 2013, Dr. Ferenz knew he wanted to stay involved in ALS care. Before accepting his current position as ALS Clinic Director at Pacific Crest Neurology, he utilized rigorous academic standards to develop a comprehensive memory care program for this community-based clinic. He even had a personal mission statement: to improve the quality of patients’ lives through support of their memory. 

When ALS Clinic Director Dr. Viviane Ugalde retired last year, she asked Dr. Ferenz to take on the role. For him, it was a no-brainer – there was no one in the area better suited for this job, and the multidisciplinary ALS Clinic model fit perfectly with his philosophy of collaborative care. He ran his first ALS Clinic in January 2024.  

A Collaborative Approach to ALS Care 

Since expanding into ALS care, Dr. Ferenz’s personal mission statement has also evolved. His goal now is to holistically improve the quality of his patients’ lives through their neurological health. He shared, “When approaching someone, that [mission statement] is always on my mind,” and that “I’m honored, excited, and grateful by the opportunity. This work gets me excited to get up and get to work every day.” 

At this relatively small clinic, where he serves 20-30 people living with ALS at any given time, Dr. Ferenz finds it easy to really get to know his patients and give them the time they may need. He prioritizes quality of life considerations (Your ALS Guide) just as much as the medical wellness of all who come into the clinic, emphasizing a whole-person approach. In alignment with this philosophy, he integrates quality of life metrics (National Library of Medicine) into the ALS Clinics to better understand how individuals are coping. It’s important to him to help individuals not only manage their disease, but also improve their overall well-being. 

The collaborative model of the ALS Clinics greatly enhances Dr. Ferenz’s care philosophy, bringing numerous, specialized providers into each appointment to supplement his work. He coordinates with a variety of physicians from St. Charles Medical Center, including a physical therapist, occupational therapist, respiratory therapist, dietician, and speech language pathologist, and leans on Partners in Care for the provision of additional palliative support. Dr. Ferenz also coordinates closely with ALS Northwest’s Care Services Coordinator in Central Oregon, Christina Riddock, who receives registrations from ALS diagnoses for home visits, organizes support groups, and enhances the overall continuity of care that people with ALS receive. 

When he isn’t providing care to his ALS patients, Dr. Ferenz is rediscovering a passion for skiing at Mt. Bachelor thanks to his seven-year-old son’s newfound excitement about ski lessons. 

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