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O.C. Vital Brain Aging Program Awarded Grant to Train Primary Care Physicians About Alzheimer's

Categories: Press Room

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif., January 21, 2015 -- Pickup Family Neurosciences Institute’s Orange County Vital Brain Aging Program has been awarded a grant to develop an invaluable online tool to help physicians throughout and beyond Orange County manage their patient’s cognitive health.

The $132,000 grant by the UniHealth Foundation, combined with designated philanthropic donations, will help the Orange County Vital Brain Aging Program (Vital Brain Program) to create an online-based continuing medical education (CME) courses to help physicians learn more about cognitive health management. The Vital Brain Program hopes to launch the program in Summer 2015.

This is the third grant that the UniHealth Foundation has awarded Hoag’s Neurosciences Institute in recognition of the Vital Brain Program’s value to health care. The first 3-year grant was awarded in 2010 for $772,500 to build the program’s core structure and support public education on management of cognitive heath. In 2013, the UniHealth Foundation granted, through 2016, another $450,000 to extend the program to educate physicians in Orange County.

In supporting the Vital Brain Program, the grant recognizes the work of Pickup Family Neurosciences Institute, which offers the most comprehensive constellation of coordinated clinical services (“programs”) for patients with brain and spine disorders in Orange County through a network of specialized care providers with expertise in such areas as brain tumors, stroke, movement disorders, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, neurobehavioral as well as memory and cognitive disorders.

“By deepening the understanding of brain health and risk-factor management among primary care physicians, this generous grant will allow us to expand our mission of focusing on healthy brain aging, by leveraging our expertise to engage and support primary care physicians in managing their patients,” said Dr. William Shankle, M.S., M.D., F.A.C.P., a board-certified neurologist and the Judy and Richard Voltmer Chair in Memory and Cognitive Disorders Program at Pickup Family Neurosciences Institute.

The UniHealth Foundation, based in Los Angeles, is a non-profit philanthropic organization whose mission is to support and facilitate activities that significantly improve the health and the well being of individuals and communities within its service area.

The Vital Brain Program promotes healthy brains through such forums as public and physicians seminars, in-person training for physicians, clinical care guidelines, online resources, self-assessments, and cognitive assessment services. By creating an online education courses for physicians, the program will be widen the scope of its reach and improve the lives of more patients by providing support and resources for their physicians.

Since its inception in 2010, the Vital Brain Program has partnered with Hoag Hospital and primary care physicians throughout the community to better understand the economics and logistics of providing cognitive health care in primary care settings. As a result of those studies, the program identified a need within the greater medical community for training and resources related to cognitive health.

Among its many other services, the Vital Brain Program also offers in-person memory assessment at four locations around the county, including Hoag Neurosciences Institute in Newport Beach, Oasis Senior Center in Corona Del Mar, Florence Sylvester Memorial Senior Center in Laguna Hills, Hoag Hospital Irvine and Hoag Health Center Huntington Beach.

“With the rapid aging of the United States, cognitive impairment is imposing a major health and socioeconomic threat to our community,” Dr. Shankle said. “While Alzheimer’s disease is a significant cause of cognitive impairment, other more treatable conditions are also common causes, including depression, sleep disorders, cerebrovascular and cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, pulmonary disease, and renal disease.”

One of the primary goals of the Vital Brain Program is to educate the community and physicians about Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative disorders, which can produce irreversible cognitive impairment, increase health care costs, and lower quality of life unless identified and treated early.

“We at the Vital Brain Program understand that primary care physicians are on the frontlines in the battle against these insidious diseases,” Dr. Shankle said. “By helping physicians identify signs of cognitive impairment early and by learning how to slow the progression of the disease, we hope to help doctors help patients maintain brain health through all stages of life.”

For more information about the Orange County Vital Brain Aging Program, visit www.OCBrain.org, and for more information about Hoag Neurosciences Institute, visitwww.hoag.org/neurosciences.

About Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian

Hoag is an approximately $1 billion nonprofit, regional health care delivery network in Orange County, California, that treats more than 24,000 inpatients and 362,000 outpatients annually. Hoag consists of two acute-care hospitals, six health centers, and seven urgent care centers. Hoag Hospital Newport Beach, which has served Orange County since 1952, and Hoag Hospital Irvine, which opened in 2010, are designated Magnet hospitals by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). Hoag offers a comprehensive blend of health care services that includes five institutes providing specialized services in the following areas: cancer, heart and vascular, neurosciences, women’s health, and orthopedics through Hoag’s affiliate, Hoag Orthopedic Institute. In 2013, Hoag entered into an alliance with St. Joseph Health to further expand health care services in the Orange County community, known as St. Joseph Hoag Health. Hoag has been named one of the Best Regional Hospitals in the U.S. News & World Report Metro Edition. National Research Corporation has endorsed Hoag as Orange County’s most preferred hospital for the past 19 consecutive years and, for an unprecedented 19 years, residents of Orange County have chosen Hoag as one of the county’s best hospitals in a local newspaper survey. Visit www.hoag.org for more information.