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Lamar County receives Healthy Brain Initiative Grant

 

February 9, 2024

Lamar County Health Department awarded Health Brain Initiative Grant
to address brain health in local community

The Lamar County Health Department in Barnesville is one of 10 health departments in the nation to be awarded a Healthy Brain Initiative (HBI) Grant by the Alzheimer’s Association and the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO).

The initiative will allow the health department to designate a part-time HBI Road Map Strategist, which will enhance its capacity to address brain health and dementia for the residents of Lamar County and the surrounding region.

“We’re so thankful for this grant from the Healthy Brain Initiative,” said Sherry Farr, Lamar County Health Department’s nurse manager. “Being able to add the new HBI Road Map Strategist will complement the Lamar County Health Department’s role in making Alzheimer’s and other dementia diagnoses more accessible to local residents through Georgia Memory Net.”

In 2023, the Lamar County Health Department was selected as one of three health departments in Georgia to serve as telehealth appointment locations through Georgia Memory Net (gamemorynet.org), a non-profit, statewide program developed to address the growing need for Georgians to have earlier access to diagnostic services closer to home. The Georgia Department of Human Services developed Georgia Memory Net in 2018 in partnership with the Goizueta Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at Emory University.

Georgia Memory Net also has regional Memory Assessment Clinics (MACs) in Albany, Atlanta, Augusta, Gainesville, Macon and Savannah.. Besides Lamar County, it now has telehealth locations in Dooly, Emanuel, Hart, Laurens and Union counties.

“Before Georgia Memory Net developed this growing network across the state,” Farr said, “it was common for some people having to wait six months or more before they could get an appointment with a neurologist, and even then they might have to travel two hours to get there.

“Georgia Memory Net continues to focus on how to make it easier for Georgians to get a diagnosis quickly and closer to home, especially in rural areas. They step into the shoes of patients and their loved ones and then work toward making their journey to a diagnosis and treatment a little bit easier.”

After receiving a primary care doctor’s referral, an individual can now come with a loved one to a telehealth appointment at the Lamar County Health Department, where a private, designated area is available for them to visit with a specialist through an online video call.

The health department’s clinical staff can help patients log in to their appointment and is available to support them throughout the visit. If the specialist decides any lab work is needed, it can be performed during the same visit at the health department.

The health department’s new part-time HBI Road Map Strategist will work to advance brain health equity. Working in support and in coordination with public health partners across the community, the Road Map Strategist will conduct a public health needs assessment, train local officials and key community partners, and lead implementation of public health action on dementia, guided by strategies from “The Healthy Brain Initiative: State and Local Road Map for Public Health, 2023-2027,” available at the Alzheimer’s Association website at alz.org.

Robin Reid, program manager for the Georgia chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, said the Lamar County Health Department’s continued partnership with Georgia Memory Net and the Healthy Brain Initiative addresses the growing need for earlier, convenient access to Alzheimer’s and other dementia diagnoses in the state.

In Georgia, about 150,000 individuals 65 and older are currently living with Alzheimer’s, and that number is expected to increase to 190,000 by 2025, Reid said.

Of the 385,000 Georgians self-reporting cognitive decline in a recent study, 80 percent said they hadn’t yet been evaluated or treated, in part due to the relatively small number of specialists available for the thousands of individuals needing services, she said.

“As much as they would like to, the relatively small number of clinicians trained to make a formal diagnosis can’t visit with the thousands of people who need their expertise,” Reid said. “Because new medications are now helping those when they’re diagnosed early, it’s crucial people receive a diagnosis as soon as they can.”

About 343,000 family caregivers bear the burden of the disease in Georgia, Reid said.

“People living with dementia and their caregivers require support as cognitive, behavioral and physical functioning changes over time,” Reid said. A strategic public health response is needed to mitigate this impact on all communities, and the addition of the HBI Road Map Strategist will help to improve that response in Lamar County and the surrounding area, she said.

The Lamar County Health Department was the only one in Georgia to receive the HBI grant. The other nine health departments receiving the grant are located in Illinois, Nebraska, North Dakota, Texas. Utah, Washington and Wisconsin.

The health department is located at 100 Academy Drive in Barnesville. For more information, call the health department at (770) 358-1483.

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MEDIA CONTACT: Natalie Shelton, natalie.shelton@dphl.ga.gov, (706) 302-6707

About the Alzheimer’s Association
The Alzheimer’s Association is a worldwide voluntary health organization dedicated to Alzheimer’s care, support and research. Our mission is to lead the way to end Alzheimer’s and all other dementia — by accelerating global research, driving risk reduction and early detection, and maximizing quality care and support. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer’s and all other dementia®. Visit alz.org or call 800.272.3900.

The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO)
The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) represents the nation’s nearly 3,000 local governmental health departments. These city, county, metropolitan, district, and tribal departments work every day to protect and promote health and well-being for all people in their communities. For more information about NACCHO, please visit naccho.org.

The Healthy Brain Initiative
The Healthy Brain Initiative and the development and dissemination of the HBI Road Map Series is supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $11,433,732 with 100% funded by CDC/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by CDC/HHS, or the U.S. Government.

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