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Local News

Memory and Aging Network Funding

The Memory and Aging Network in Illinois could experience cuts in staff, sites and research if $500,000 is not raised by the end of May. The Memory and Aging Network was created after legislation in 1985 set up Alzheimer's programming in Illinois. The Network conducts research into Alzheimer's and other related disorders, helps evaluate Alzheimer's and dementia patients, offers programs such as art and music therapy and provides caregiver support. There are over 30 local sites throughout the state including in Hillsboro, Effingham and Edwardsville. Dr. Tom Ala is a neurologist and the Center for Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders Interim Director at the SIU School of Medicine in Springfield. He says their current financial crisis is due to more than just the state's budget impasse.

One problem is not really related to the budget impasse and that is, we had been receiving state funds up until June of 2014 and a complicated problem happened with payments from Medicaid and payments to us stopped. Regarding the budget impasse, is more related to this coming fiscal year and thereafter because right now, if a budget is not passed - if the budget does not say anything for Alzheimer's in it - our program would have zero funding starting July 1st of this year and maybe thereafter.

To ensure the Network's continuation for another fiscal year, they need to raise $500,000 by May 31st. Ala says without funding, research projects and educational programs will be cut and many local sites may have to close their doors.

For each of the sites that see patients, we send them reimbursement for seeing the patients and that would completely go to zero - already it's at fifty percent of what we had been giving them in the past. A number of people here would lose their jobs and we would really have to go to bare bones maintenance. We still would be seeing patients here in Springfield, such as myself, because we are reimbursed by Medicaid, Medicare, etc., for seeing the patients, but even that would be cut back because like our social worker would lose her job and her job is very important for hand holding and doing a lot of telephone evaluations. When I see patients in the clinic, a very important part of that evaluation is the social worker input or the psychosocial aspect so I would be missing that, so it would take me longer to see patients and not be as thorough to see patients.

For more information on the Memory and Aging Network or how to donate, go to the SIU School of Medicine website.Thomack 4/6/16