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Featured Business: Jerry Henberger of the Parkinson’s Association

Jerry HenbergerThis month Grace Care features an organization that is very near and dear to our hearts.  The Parkinson’s Association is raising awareness, offering support  and delivering tools to help those who have been affected by Parkinson’s disease.  Grace Care continues to be a part of their many educational workshops and fundraising events.  Many of our clients are affected by this disease, and so we hope to also raise awareness with this featured interview.

Jerry Henberger currently serves as the Executive Director of the Parkinson’s Association and shares with us details on the programs and services they offer to the community.

As the Executive Director for the Parkinson’s Association, Jerry Henberger has expanded operations to serve all of Southern California with innovative and therapeutic programs designed to ease the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. The new Minds and Motion Health Services, is staffed with licensed psychologists, licensed clinical social workers, marriage and family therapists, with plans to expand services with physical and occupational therapists, speech therapists and personal trainers. These dedicated health professionals will offer services to help people with movement disorders.

Jerry also serves as the Executive Editor of the Parkinsonian.org, the nations first magazine dedicated to Parkinson’s disease. Jerry was in addition a founding member of the “Summit4StemCell” program. Summit is a partnership with the Parkinson’s Association, Scripps Clinic and Scripps Research Institute that has the potential to offer lasting therapies to people suffering with Parkinson’s disease. Pending final FDA approval and funding, this research program may be ready for patient trials by 2016.

Jerry also worked with Scripps Mercy Hospital as their Director of Development, helping raise funds to build the $35 million dollar emergency room from January 2006 through March of 2009. Other accomplishments while at Mercy Hospital included funding Scripps Health’s first Da Vinci robot for minimally invasive surgery.  He served as well in various capacities as CEO for engineering, distribution and investment banking firms in the private sector. He most recently worked with Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Orange County as their Chief Development Officer from 2009 until his current position with the Parkinson’s Association.

What services does the Parkinson’s Association currently provide?

The Parkinson’s Association has provided the Parkinson’s community services to help families affected by Parkinson’s with a variety of programs; including educational symposiums, support groups, respite care, an equipment exchange program, voice therapy programs and physical movement therapeutic opportunities. In the past 18 months, the Parkinson’s Association has expanded its programs with a bold new integrated program called “Minds and Motion” which consists of an integrated care model with psychological counseling for individuals, couples, families and groups. Minds and Motion also has an expanded physical therapy program conducted by physical and occupational therapists, along with speech pathologists. All of these programs help families affected by Parkinson’s learn to adapt and treat the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

How do current changes in health care impact your community and how are you planning to meet those challenges?

When the Parkinson’s Association began the Minds and Motion Health Services, the goal was to improve the health of Parkinson’s families. Changes in health care are forcing hospitals and medical systems to change their business models from being profit centers to patient population management systems. As such, Minds and Motion is the perfect model for people with degenerative diseases. Our programs are designed to keep people healthier longer, keeping them out of the hospital. The more they exercise, stay in good mental health, the less of a burden they become on the medical community population management systems.

Can you tell us more detail about your “Minds in Motion” program and how do you see that benefiting your patient population?

The Minds and Motion program specifically consists of our credentialed psychologists, licensed clinical social workers, marriage family therapists, speech pathologists, physical therapists, occupational therapists and personal trainers. Due to the sheer number of people with Parkinson’s that require services, we have established a Minds and Motion Partner Program where trainers specializing in disciplines such as tai chi, yoga, water exercises, boxing, dancing and singing all are available geographically to meet the community needs. They must become certified through our training programs, meeting certain levels of understanding of Parkinson’s so they can yield maximum benefit to our community. Through these services, our Parkinson’s community can help themselves through exercise and stay in good mental health while battling a degenerative disease with no cure.

 What do you think are the most important advocacy issues for the Parkinson’s Association?

There are several key advocacy issues the Parkinson’s Association is working on, on behalf of the Parkinson’s community. One relates to the amount of funding that is made available to a person with Parkinson’s when it comes to physical therapy. Staying mobile is key to a healthy life. Currently Medicare limits the funding to approximately $1,800 a year for patients. We need to make sure that our policy makers understand that this is a degenerative disease and our goal is to maintain good health.

The second advocacy issue is Parkinson’s research funding. This is a disease that with proper funding can go the same way of Polio, or other diseases, that can be made a problem of the past.

What is your vision for the future of the Parkinson’s Association?

Our vision is of course a “world without Parkinson’s.”  While we are working on research to support that vision, we are also creating therapies where people with Parkinson’s can help themselves through education, exercise, good mental health, financial independence and support for one another.

To get more information on the Parkinson’s Association, please visit their website at www.parkinsonsassociation.org.

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