We have made so much progress when it comes to implementing Parkinson’s programs in Alabama, but we have so much more work to do. “I can remember when my dad was first diagnosed in 2012, we had one option for a BIG Therapist, one support group that was a bit too far to reach from Chelsea, and movement groups were unheard of,” says Brooklyn White, Care Navigator and Director of Programs and Marketing for the Parkinson Association of Alabama.
Today, more than 22 support groups and 27 movement groups are now available in Alabama. More than 40 LSVT BIG Therapists are located throughout Alabama. While great progress has been made in the last ten years, there are still underserved areas for Parkinson’s programming in Alabama. Most Parkinson’s specific programming and therapeutic services still center around the metro urban areas of Birmingham, Huntsville and Mobile.
The PAA is on a mission to extend Parkinson’s specific programming and services throughout Alabama, extending the rural reach of these programs. “I like to think of them as PD Hubs,” says White. “We have worked to identify 25 cities, all with community hospitals, senior or wellness facilities, or outpatient therapeutic facilities that could be prime locations to offer these services.”
Currently, the PAA, charged by its Mission Committee co-chairs, J. Gary Ellis and Michael S. Fitts, to fulfill the primary PAA mission: Improving the quality of life for Parkinson’s patients, families and caregivers throughout Alabama. We are working hard to establish networks and connections at these facilities, demonstrate the effectiveness and benefits Parkinson’s specific programming offers to our PD community, and assisting in the establishment, implementation, and awareness of these programs.
“More than 16,000 Alabamians are living with Parkinson’s. We must make Parkinson’s programs available throughout the state to serve everyone. My goal is to double the amount of available support and movement groups in Alabama by the end of 2024” says White.
But our work will not stop there. “I will not be satisfied until there is a PD Program available within 30 miles of every Alabamian,” says White. “And hopefully, that radius can decrease as well.”
The PAA will remain focused on ensuring higher populous and urban areas are still well served. “There is a demand for more and larger groups in the metro-urban areas. We certainly won’t take our eye off the ball to support these groups,” says White. “But we must ensure that equitable access to key Parkinson’s programming is available for everyone.”
HOW CAN YOU HELP? Do you live in a rural area where Parkinson’s programs are not available to you, but you would like to see them come to your area? We are here to help. Give us a call. Help us learn more about your community, and we will work to establish relationships in your area to help stand up these programs. When there is more proven interest, it’s an easier sell. You can do this by emailing Care Navigator, Brooklyn White at email@example.com or by calling 1.833.473.5465, ext. 2.