GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – The Alzheimer’s Association’s Eastern North Carolina Chapter recently launched a new direct connect referral program for patients with the disease.

The program offers patients resources and information free of charge.

Once a patient is diagnosed, the physician will send a referral form over to staff at the Alzheimer’s Association. Staff at the organization will then reach out to patients and families and help with creating a care plan.

The plan is expected to help patients and their families better understand the disease, available treatment and offer support services.

Staff tell 9OYS often times healthcare professionals do not have the time or resources to create care plans for patients with the disease, so this program is expected to help.

“I would highly encourage them [physicians] to get on board,” said Peggy Best, Director of Programs and Outreach, Alzheimer’s Association. “We want to help them do some of the heavy lifting. It is not a us versus them, but it is us coming along and working alongside them.” 

A structured care plan is also expected to decrease hospital and emergency room visits. It will also help patients with medication management.

“Research has showed that families tend not to reach out initially because they need to sit and process the information and ask themselves questions like ‘What is Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia?,’ “What does this look like for a future?,’ said Best.  

The Association also has a 24-7 helpline for patients.

Healthcare providers interested in learning more about the program can contact Peggy Best at pbest@alz.org or at 919-241-5928.