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Posted: June 12, 2001

Alzheimer’s Alliance Focuses on Patient Care and Research


FORT WORTH, Texas— Providing the best care for Alzheimer’s patients and finding a cure to the debilitating disease are the focus of a new alliance between two local institutions.

The James L. West Alzheimer Center has joined the Consortium on Alzheimer’s Research and Education (CARE) Program at the University of North Texas Health Science Center. As part of the statewide consortium, the West Alzheimer Center will work with the health science center on research, education, and training efforts devoted to evaluation, treatment and prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.

One of the first research projects involves a pilot program studying the feasibility of using telemedicine to evaluate and treat people with Alzheimer’s disease. An interactive computer system has been installed between the two facilities that allows residents, staff and physicians to talk and see one another in real time. This technology can provide the resident greater access to a wide range of specialists and may prove to enhance the quality of care, provide more timely care, and reduce the cost of care.

"This is a win-win partnership," said Thomas Fairchild, Ph.D., director of Special Projects on Aging at the health science center. "We’ve been studying Alzheimer’s disease for years, and the West Alzheimer Center is well known for its innovative approach to caring for patients who suffer from the disease."

"Our affiliation with the CARE Program demonstrates the West Center’s commitment to research," said Moira Reinhardt, the center’s executive director. "Our residents’ families are thrilled that they and their loved ones can be part of this special program that has so much potential to help other people affected by Alzheimer’s disease."

The James L. West Alzheimer Center opened in 1993 as one of the nation’s first free-standing facilities exclusively for the care of persons with Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders. Today, the center provides full-time residential care, respite care, and a day program for more than 120 people with Alzheimer’s disease or some other form of dementia.

The UNT Health Science Center has a long-standing commitment to improving the care provided to the growing population of those over age 65. It was among the first in the country to offer specialized medical training in geriatric care and conduct research into aging issues. The health science center was the first medical school in the Dallas-Fort Worth area to establish a geriatric fellowship program that offers physicians and dentists advanced training in caring for elderly patients.

The CARE Program links UNT Health Science Center researchers and faculty physicians with providers at select Texas facilities that provide quality care to people with dementia. The program is working on expanding the number of facilities and its geographic scope.

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive, degenerative neurological disorder that interferes with daily functioning and eventually causes death. It is the fourth leading cause of death in American adults.

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