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Hartford HealthCare leads migraine research nationwide after donation

As a commitment to end the debilitating effects of migraines on millions of people every day, the former Migraine Research Foundation gifted more than $1 million to the Hartford HealthCare Headache Center.

“This investment is going to make a tremendous difference for so many,” said Jeff Flaks, CEO and president of Hartford HealthCare.

In a press conference hosted by Hartford HealthCare on Feb. 18, Grace Gold, a New Jersey native who travels every four months to ensure she remains a patient of the Hartford HealthCareHeadache Center. Gold talked about how the Migraine Research Foundation and the Hartford HealthCare Headache Center has changed her life. Gold suffered from migraines since she was 11 and said it worsened every year until her late 20s.

“I saw many doctors, many neurologists over those years who were just not able to provide the kind of specialized care I needed to get better,” Gold said. “That is until I found Dr. Grosberg.”

Dr. Brain Grosberg is the medical director of the Hartford HealthCare Headache Center. The center has worked closely with the Migraine Research Foundation in the past. In 2016, Grosberg was awarded $250,000 from the foundation to research migrainosus, which is a type of migraine that lasts more than three days.

Gold was one of the patients who experienced this type of migraine.

“When I would get a migraine, it would be a three day event,” Gold said. “I did a lot in my life, but it was all focused around just getting through the day. I was not very present in anything I did.”

She said she suffered 15 days out of every month with a migraine. Not only was suffering in a physical way as a result, she said not knowing when her next migraine would occur would cause anxiety.

“​​It affects your relationships,” Gold said. “You have to learn to speak up for yourself and what you need from partners from family. You certainly miss out on a lot.”

That changed for Gold when she started getting treatment from Grosberg. He had a different approach to care, one that would allow Gold to enjoy her life.

“I never ever imagined this kind of improvement in quality of life would be possible for me,” Gold said. “I’m just so excited that the Migraine Research Foundation has selected Hartford HealthCare Headache Center for this gift. Because I know personally, this is in exactly the right hands to do the most good.”

The foundation decided to close after 15 years at the end of 2021, and chose Hartford HealthCare’s Headache Center to continue on the path they have trailblazed.

He said things the Foundation accomplished were “unique to the country, if not the world.” One example is that the organization helped form the only Headache and Pregnancy Clinic in the country.

“At this moment, we’re submitting a research study on how women’s healthcare providers manage migraine during pregnancy,” Grosberg said.

Flaks said he is thrilled the Migraine Research Foundation chose Hartford HealthCare, since it is in Connecticut.

“We’ve built something very special, because we’ve built a statewide network of headache programs … there are more under development,” Flaks said.

There are 14 headache specialists caring for over 20,000 patients across the Hartford HealthCare system. The team is doing research to better care for its patients in a more equitable and effective way.

“What’s important is this is not episodic care. This is not fragmented care. This is coordinated care,” Flaks said.

The statewide headache care is a model of what Hartford HealthCare hopes to accomplish across all fields in healthcare, Flaks said.

“That’s part of our vision for Connecticut, it’s to make healthcare a destination, to make this a place where people want to live, where they want to raise their families, where they want to retire,” Flaks said. “For people from outside of Connecticut, where they want to come here for the finest and best health care where it can be done most affordably most efficiently.”