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SAN MATEO, CALIF., NAMED NATIONAL SITE FOR MODEL ARTHRITIS CARE PROJECT

SAN MATEO, CALIF., NAMED NATIONAL SITE FOR MODEL ARTHRITIS CARE PROJECT
 SAN MATEO, Calif. March 19 /PRNewswire/ -- To improve the quality of life and lessen the disability of Americans with arthritis, a coalition of the Arthritis Foundation, national arthritis and public health experts, and the leaders of San Mateo, Calif., today announced the creation of the San Mateo Arthritis Project. The effort is funded by SmithKline Beecham.
 The goal of the project is to make San Mateo a model for communities nationwide -- to demonstrate how to harness a wide range of resources that can make life easier for the 37 million Americans with arthritis.
 "Many Americans with arthritis are suffering more than they need to -- not knowing where to turn or even that resources are available to improve their mobility, productivity and long term health," said Gerson Bernhard, M.D., medical director of the Arthritis Center at Mills- Peninsula Hospitals, and co-chairperson and principal investigator for the project. "San Mateo will serve as a living laboratory to guide and inspire communities nationwide."
 "Approximately six million Americans with arthritis are not receiving professional medical care, and many millions do not take advantage of the community services available," according to Arthur Grayzel, M.D. senior vice president, medical affairs, the Arthritis Foundation.
 "The San Mateo Arthritis Project reflects SmithKline Beecham's recognition that Americans with arthritis could have a better quality of life," said Dr. J.P. Garnier, president, North America Pharmaceuticals, SmithKline Beecham, makers of the new arthritis medication Relafen (nabumetone). "Effective and sage medication is important, but so are other resources, such as team care, community programs offered by the Arthritis Foundation, and hardware and implements for the home and workplace."
 Arthritis costs the U.S. $35 billion annually. "For millions of Americans with arthritis, disability and the enormous costs associated with it come sooner and more often than they need to," said Bernhard.
 A progressive and frequently disabling disease, arthritis, in any of its 100 forms, affects one in every three American families. Because of the pain, swelling and loss of function that are hallmarks of the disease, individuals with arthritis often have great trouble accomplishing simple, everyday tasks, such as dressing, walking, unlocking a door, or opening a jar.
 The San Mateo Arthritis Projec t will be undertaken in three phases:
 1) Developing a local board of directors from community health experts;
 2) Determining what the community understands about arthritis and arthritis care, and what barriers exist to seeking, delivering and receiving care;
 3) Developing initiatives to address the gaps in understanding and barriers to arthritis care delivery, and implementing as many initiatives as time and resources permit. The project is being conducted as a 15-month study, and a report will be published at its conclusion.
 "We are honored to have been chosen as the model for a project that promises to break new ground in arthritis care," said Florence Rhoads, mayor of San Mateo and co-chairperson of the project.
 San Mateo, 19 miles south of San Francisco, is home to 85,000 people. More than 22 percent of San Mateo's population is 50 years of age or older, making it an ideal place to conduct an intervention for arthritis, which affects people of all ages, but older people disproportionately. San Mateo County was among the first in the United States to develop a Disabilities Task Force to determine unmet needs of disabled persons and to work with the county board of supervisors to implement changes.
 As home to one of the few hospital-based arthritis centers in the country, San Mateo is well suited to take on a broad-based arthritis intervention program. The Mills-Peninsula Hospitals Arthritis Center is a first-of-a-kind partnership between the Arthritis Foundation and a healthcare provider. This partnership provides treatment and education for people with rheumatic disease. The center takes a unique "lifestyle" approach to coping with the disease, offering a wide range of medical care combined with comprehensive educational, vocational, social, and psychological support services.
 The Arthritis Foundation, headquartered in Atlanta, has 70 chapters nationwide. Its mission is to support research to find the cure for and prevention of arthritis and to improve the quality of life for those affected by arthritis. Individuals wishing more information about the Arthritis Foundation and arthritis may call their local chapter.
 SmithKline Beecham is a worldwide research-intensive health-care company with 1991 sales of $8.7 billion and an annual research budget of more than $800 million. In addition to arthritis, SB scientists focus on the discovery of drugs to treat infection, cardiovascular disease, central nervous system disorders, and gastrointestinal disease.
 The San Mateo Arthritis Project office is at 205 E. Third Ave., San Mateo, CA 94401. The telephone number is 415-347-4466.
 -0- 3/19/92
 /CONTACT: Holly Eger of San Mateo Arthritis Project, 415-433-5381, or Kathy Varjavandi of Edelman Communications, 212-704-8217, for San Mateo Arthritis Project/ CO: SmithKline Beecham ST: California, Pennsylvania IN: HEA SU:


TQ-AH -- NY003 -- 9521 03/19/92 09:01 EST
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Date:Mar 19, 1992
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