Trenton, NJ 08625-0360
March 9, 2000
PRINCETON - Plans for two regional arthritis centers in Camden and Morris counties and a statewide conference and resource directory for person with arthritis and other rheumatic diseases were unveiled today at the first meeting of the New Jersey Advisory Council on Arthritis.
The council, created last year by Gov. Christie Whitman through the Arthritis Quality of Life Initiative Act, will give guidance and direction to the Department of Health and Senior Services on arthritis activities. The initiatives will focus on increasing public awareness about arthritis, options for prevention, the value of early detection and treatment, and the delivery of services aimed at preventing arthritis-related health complications and improving quality of life. The initiatives are supported by $634,000 in state funds and a $62,000 grant from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
"This council and the initiatives it will oversee clearly establish New Jersey as a national leader in the study, prevention and treatment of arthritis," said Gov. Whitman.
Arthritis is the most common, crippling and costly chronic disease in the United States, affecting more than 40 million Americans of all ages, or nearly 15% of the population. The CDC estimates that by the year 2020, one-in-five Americans will be affected by arthritis.
"The council will play a vital role in helping us to raise public awareness, better educate healthcare professionals and establish much-needed programs and services for both adults and kids suffering from arthritis and other rheumatic diseases," said Health and Senior Services Commissioner Christine Grant.
The council will monitor and offer input into all arthritis activities, including public information and outreach campaigns; professional education programs; programs and services aimed at prevention, reducing complications and improving quality of life; and the overall information, referral and support network for people with arthritis. The council will also evaluate outcome-based research and make recommendations for improvement of care and treatment of arthritis.
At its first meeting today, held at the New Jersey Hospital Association in Princeton, council members heard detailed plans for two regional arthritis centers. Atlantic Health System Hospital Corporation and Virtua Health/West Jersey Health System were selected last month to develop the centers to serve six northern and five southern counties, respectively. The systems were awarded $232,000 each and will conduct surveys to assess the needs of their communities; publish a local service directory; distribute brochures and other educational material; and host a number of focus groups, workshops and presentations for healthcare professional, persons with arthritis and family members.
Both health systems will also sponsor self-help groups and exercise and/or weight management courses in each county served. Information on programs will be available through new or expanded telephone information lines and web sites.
As part of their award, Atlantic Health System will establish a permanent exhibit related to arthritis at Liberty Science Center that focuses on injury prevention and risk-reducing behaviors such as weight control, nutrition and exercise. Virtua will offer several weekly water exercise classes for program participants. Virtua will also host exercise and weight management courses within the City of Camden.
In addition to the hospitals, the New Jersey Chapter of the Arthritis Foundation was awarded $48,348 to sponsor a statewide conference for healthcare professionals and develop and disseminate a statewide arthritis resource directory. The chapter will also identify, train and certify five health professionals who in turn will each train 10 arthritis self-help course co-leaders. The co-leaders, working in pairs consisting of a health professional and a person with arthritis, will then work with hospitals and other community agencies to create, support and sustain arthritis education and self-help programs statewide.
For more information on arthritis, call the Arthritis Foundation's New Jersey Chapter at 1-888-467-3112, or visit the foundation's web site at www.arthritis.org.
Ex Officio Members: