The San Diego County Health Department received $750,000 for dementia research and services from the state of California, the California. The funding, originating from the California Healthy Brain Initiative and Local Public Health Partnerships program, totals $4.5 million going to a total of five public health agencies with identical grants. Each grant will be distributed between June 1, 2020 to 2022. The other counties to receive the funding include Los Angles, Placer, Sacramento, Santa Clara and Shasta Counties.
What is the California Healthy Brain Initiative and Local Public Health Partnerships program?
The California Healthy Brain Initiative seeks to implement the Healthy Brain Initiative: State and Local Public Health Partnerships to Address Dementia roadmap developed by the Alzheimer’s Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as the two organizations sought to outline how state and local public health agencies and their partners can continue to promote cognitive health, address cognitive impairment for people living in the community, and help meet the needs of care givers.
The roadmap includes four domains of public health including 1) educate and empower 2) develop policies and mobilize partnerships 3) assure a competent workforce and 4) monitor and evaluate. Understood in the context of an “action agenda” California, America’s most populous state, counts about 670,000 people in California actively living with Alzheimer’s disease with very mild to advanced symptoms reports Dr. Sonia Angell, California Department of Public Health director and state public health officer. Dr. Angell noted “Their needs and those of the families and caregivers who help support them varies across a spectrum. The time is now to work with communities and partners to find durable solutions. These awards reflect an important investment towards that goal.”
A key imperative includes the boosting of screenings in the Golden State. According to the Alzheimer’s Association’s San Diego/Imperial Chapter Director of Programs Anna Gonzalez Seda, MPH noted to KPBS San Diego that even patients believe screenings for Alzheimer’s are important but that only 16% report receiving them.
Two primary factors hold up patient screenings, including 1) lack of provider confidence to make part of the ordinary element of care—or conversely lack of time and 2) patient fears to request a screening. This factor is especially pronounced in Black and Latino communities in California where Alzheimer’s rates are higher. As part of the funding, the Alzheimer’s Association will mobilize tools (including an App) and training for both providers and patients (public).
Public Health departments in California tend to procure and use electronic health record-based case management systems that are utilized for comprehensive care coordination in a public health setting. An example would be NetSmart. A significant amount of data is accumulated across various counties and with the proper consent the access for research purposes could be significant for patient outreach, education and perhaps even targeted enrollment for research as care options.