ALS of Nevada offers support to patients, their families

For nearly 10 years, ALS of Nevada has been providing much-needed support, including emotional, physical and financial assistance, to locals suffering from the neurodegenerative disease known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

There is no cure for Lou Gehrig’s, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, which can have sudden and devastating effects on patients who are diagnosed with it. They often require around-the-clock care and special equipment, such as wheelchairs, lifts and communication devices, says Megan Testa, executive director of the local nonprofit group.

The Nevada chapter currently serves 70 patients statewide, providing many of them with wheelchairs, communication devices, vouchers for respite care and other services, Testa says.

The chapter started out as a one-woman operation in 1998, but now has an executive director, two full-time employees and two part-time employees.

In 2006, the chapter opened an ALS clinic so that patients can receive all of their care in town, Testa says. Before, they had to travel out-of-state for such care.

The original clinic assessment takes four hours, during which the patient sees a neurologist, dietitian, occupational therapist and other medical professionals. That assessment enables the staff to address a patient’s specific needs, such as wheelchairs or respite care, Testa says. Patients return every three to six months for a follow-up.

The assessment clinic’s annual budget is $25,000.

The chapter also provides every client with 16 hours of in-home care per month, Testa says. It’s broken down into eight two-hour vouchers that immediate caregivers can use to do whatever they need to do, such as going to the store, getting their hair done or just taking a short break, Testa says.

“The whole idea is to give the caregiver some relief,” Testa explains.

That program was funded with a state grant worth $106,000 last year. Because of its success, the grant was increased to $150,000 for the current year. Testa hopes to increase the number of respite hours available to clients.

For more information about ALS, contact the chapter at 777-0500.

Contact reporter Sonya Padgett at spadgett@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4564.

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