Advocates have been busy across North Carolina this summer working to further the Alzheimer’s Association’s public policy priorities on behalf of the 180,000 North Carolinians living with Alzheimer’s disease and their 479,000 caregivers.
On September 2nd and 3rd, the North Carolina General Assembly reconvened for a special short session to work on the Coronavirus Relief Act. One of the driving concerns across the nation has been the lack of visitation in long term care settings. Many family members have been unable to physically meet with loved ones battling Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia. The Alzheimer’s Association is urging state and federal lawmakers to implement new policy solutions to address the issues impacting long-term care during the pandemic. The only way to end social isolation is to ensure every residential care community has access to rapid testing for all residents, staff and visitors.
The Alzheimer’s Association in North Carolina has been actively working with Governor Roy Cooper’s office, NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS), and the NC Division of Public Health to monitor this situation. On September 1, 2020 Health and Human Services Secretary, Dr. Mandy Cohen, executed a Secretarial order that would provide for compassionate care visits (such as end of life), and outdoor visitation with adherence to protocols. As we move toward better security standards, the Alzheimer’s Association also worked with Senator Joyce Krawiec (NC-14), and other N.C. General Assembly leaders to address this issue. House Bill 1105 is an appropriations bill that directs funds from the Federal Cares Act. Section 35a of the bill allocates money for rapid testing for staff, residents and also family visitors. This is an important step as we move toward ending isolation. The bill also greatly increases funds to make available the personal protective equipment required to make visitation indoors an eventual reality. Many North Carolina advocates worked tirelessly to bring this issue to the attention of all of our state leaders.
Working with bipartisan Congressional champions, the Alzheimer’s Association through the Alzheimer’s Impact Movement (AIM) was instrumental in the development, introduction and of the passage of the Building Our Largest Dementia (BOLD) Infrastructure for Alzheimer’s Act (P.L. 115-406). The bill creates an Alzheimer’s public health infrastructure across the country to implement effective Alzheimer’s interventions focused on public health issues such as increasing early detection and diagnosis, reducing risk and preventing avoidable hospitalizations. The BOLD Infrastructure for Alzheimer’s Act will establish this by establishing Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias Public Health Centers of Excellence, providing funding to state, local and tribal public health departments, and increasing data analysis and timely reporting. This month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) selected the Alzheimer’s Association as the National Public Health Center of Excellence on Dementia Risk Reduction.
North Carolina has also been issued a BOLD grant from the CDC. North Carolina developed a task force in February of 2020 that comprised the NC Division of Public Health, NCDHHS, The Alzheimer’s Association, and UNC Hospitals. This group developed a grant proposal, and was eventually awarded the competitive grant that will allow NC to bolster administrative capabilities within the Division of Public Health. This $200,000 grant will be recurring for a three year period, allowing for better awareness campaigns, health brain programming, rural and minority outreach, and increasing access to clinical trials.
With help from advocates like you, we’ve passed critical legislation and increased federal research funding five-fold since 2011. But our work isn’t done and we need dedicated advocates like you to build on this success in Congress and in every state capital. We’ll train you to advocate in a variety of ways, some of which take just an hour or two every few months. Whatever your experience and availability, we’re eager to have you on our advocacy team! Will you join us?