Everything about the way Parkinson’s Resources of Oregon operates has changed since the coronavirus pandemic began.
As with many organizations in medicine, that’s meant greatly reducing in-person services. PRO has continued to operate in the best way it can under the circumstances, said Parkinson’s Resources of Oregon Executive Director Holly Chaimov.
PRO serves Southwest Washington, as well as Oregon, and partners with Legacy Health and Oregon Health & Science University to help people with Parkinson’s disease, a disorder of the central nervous system.
PRO has set up a system for virtual meetings and phone calls. It even has a virtual singing group. Between 20 to 40 people have been signing up for that each session.
But as Chaimov mentioned, “virtual does not work for everybody.”
To help people with Parkinson’s navigate the pandemic and its restrictions, PRO has been doing outreach phone calls to those with Parkinson’s. Chaimov said they spoke to around 1,000 people in April.
In one phone call, a woman insisted that she was doing fine since the pandemic began, but further probing revealed struggles. It turned out the woman was afraid to visit the grocery store, and was subsisting on applesauce and peanut butter.
PRO helped her connect with her pastor, and now the congregants drops off groceries outside her home.
“There was no miracle there,” Chaimov said. “Sometimes you have a great network of people you need to be reminded of.”
Last month, the Community Foundation of Southwest Washington awarded PRO a $25,000 grant to support programs addressing basic needs, including physical and behavioral health, food, housing and support for essential workers.
Dr. Joseph Quinn, director of OHSU’s Parkinson Center and Movement Disorders Program, said he knows patients are eager to have in-person visits again, but he’s happy with the virtual results. He said providers can still check on patients, and help them get or alter medication.
“Our patients have been adversely impacted in a lot of ways, but everyone involved have all been very creative in trying to address these things,” Quinn said.