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Hall of Fame Health NFL Saint John's Health Center
February 12, 2022

PNI Offers Cognitive Screening to Retired NFL Hall of Famers

by Guest Author

Pictured above: Dr. Daniel Kelly, Jackie Slater, Rod Woodson, Michael Ricks, and Dr. David Merrill.

Service is part of a larger partnership between Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica and the NFL Hall of Fame Health.

SANTA MONICA – Leading up to the NFL’s biggest showdown, Providence Saint John’s Health Center announced it will offer retired pro football players an initial cognitive screening assessment as part of its newly-established partnership with Hall of Fame Health.

Providence Saint John’s is one of 18 health systems nationwide partnering with the Hall of Fame Health initiative to provide top-level care for retired football players and their families.

The cognitive screening assessments will be administered by Pacific Neuroscience Institute (PNI) located at Providence Saint John’s, which recently ranked in the top 1% of all neurology and neurosurgery programs in the country by U.S. News & World Report.

“Like so many pro athletes, professional football players can suffer long-term injuries that only worsen with age and limit quality of life,” said Michael Ricks, Providence Saint John’s chief executive. “Providence Saint John’s has both renowned specialists to address these injuries and related illnesses and a range of highly qualified experts who will focus on preventive health care for these men and their families.”

The brain health of pro football players was a major topic of discussion Wednesday, February 9, 2022, evening during a special event hosted by Providence Saint John’s Health Center and Hall of Fame Health, just a few days prior to Super Bowl.

During the event, Hall of Famer and former Los Angeles Rams offensive tackle Jackie Slater spoke with Dr. Daniel Kelly, Director and Founder of PNI, and Dr. David Merrill, Director of PNI’s Brain Health Center, about his own experience visiting the institute where he underwent a cognitive screening assessment. Slater later was joined by fellow Hall of Famers Stevie Atwater, Tim Brown, Mike Haynes, James Loften and Rod Woodson for a panel discussion to share their picks for Super Bowl LVI and to reveal their own experiences with sports-related injuries as a result of the game.

Not only did the event give former pro players a chance to reconnect before the Super Bowl, but it also gave them an opportunity to learn about the leading-edge concierge services available to them through Providence Saint John’s and Hall of Fame Health’s partnership.

Thanks to the affiliation, former pro football players and their families have access to some of the nation’s top orthopedic surgeons, neurologists, and cardiologists, as well as other high-profile specialists that can address issues that derive from lingering football injuries, as well as general health issues they and their families face, including women’s health. Saint John’s connection to PNI also gives players the opportunity to address conditions affecting memory and cognition with one-on-one evaluations, cognitive assessments and cognitive training.

Chris Myers, Dr. Daniel Kelly, Jackie Slater, and Dr. David Merrill.

Currently, the Santa Monica hospital is one of only two California medical centers – the second is UC San Francisco Medical Center (UCSF) – to be selected by Hall of Fame Health to provide concierge services to former players and their families. Hall of Fame Health was created to help former players who are challenged to transition from the game of football when their careers come to an end, and where health-related issues are often at the root of those challenges.

“One of the missions of the Pro Football Hall of Fame is to ‘Honor the Heroes of the Game,’ and Hall of Fame Health was created to serve this mission by meeting former players in times of need and help them in any way we can,” said Jeremy Hogue, CEO of Hall of Fame Health. “When it relates to health care, we stand ready to assist. And we couldn’t do it without world-class partners like Saint John’s.”

Providence Saint John’s was one of Hall of Fame Health’s initial founding partners in its provider network, a group that originally included 12 hospitals, health systems and large medical groups. That group continues to expand, with many of the nation’s top medical centers participating.  Members have made commitments around concierge-level services, timely appointments and access to top providers within the organizations. These relationships span the scope of care to all conditions, and not only offer services to former players, but also to their spouses and dependents.

“Saint John’s has been a pivotal partner for us in many ways,” Hogue said. “They were one of the first health centers to see our vision and raise their hand to join. They’ve engaged with our football community, just like this new cognitive screening program exemplifies. And you have to take into account that this is Los Angeles, and there are so many former NFL players and families living in this area – one of the most important markets for us in the country.  They’re an ideal partner for all we are trying to do.”

Original article was written by Providence Saint John’s Health Center Foundation on the foundation’s blog.

About Dr. Daniel F. Kelly

Daniel F. Kelly, MD

Daniel Kelly, MD, a board-certified neurosurgeon, is the Director and one of the founders of the Pacific Neuroscience Institute, Director of the Pacific Brain Tumor Center and Pacific Pituitary Disorders Center, and is Professor of Neurosurgery at Saint John’s Cancer Institute at Providence Saint John’s Health Center. Considered to be one of the top neurosurgeons in the US, he has been awarded the Southern California SuperDoctors distinction 15 years in a row.

About Dr. David Merrill

David Merrill MD PhD

David A. Merrill, MD, PhD, is an adult and geriatric psychiatrist with double-board certification by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. He is the director of the Pacific Brain Health Center at Pacific Neuroscience Institute. Dr. Merrill has worked for several decades with patients suffering the behavioral health sequelae of age-related neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disorder. 

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Last updated: March 7th, 2022