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Morristown Memorial Hospital's Arthritis Center Receives National Certification

North Jersey Regional Arthritis Center Gains Training Center Status, Offers Upcoming Program During Arthritis Awareness Month

The North Jersey Regional Arthritis Center (NJRAC), an extension of Atlantic Health System's Morristown Memorial Hospital, was recently granted privileges as a training center by the National Arthritis Foundation. The Center's new status enables its specially trained staff to certify individuals to teach various quality-of-life programs designed for people with arthritis.
"We are extremely pleased that we will now be able to provide even more options to people with arthritis. With our recent certification, we are now able to train healthcare professionals and volunteers to facilitate arthritis self-help programs and courses," said David Widman, M.D., chairman of the Rheumatology Department of Morristown Memorial Hospital and medical director of the Arthritis Center at Morristown Memorial Hospital.

In recognition of Arthritis Awareness Month (May), and in celebration of its recent achievement, NJRAC is offering its first training courses to healthcare professionals and volunteers. The two-day "Arthritis Self-Help Course" (ASHC) Leadership Training is being offered on May 15 and May 22, from 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. at NJRAC. A "Water Exercise Together" (WET) Program is being offered on May 19, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. at the Summit YMCA, and on May 29, from 8 a.m. - 4 p.m., NJRAC is offering "People With Arthritis Can Exercise" (PACE) Leadership Training.

The ASHC is designed to empower people with arthritis to manage their own care, enabling them to live full and active lives with minimal pain, fatigue, and disability. This course encourages people with arthritis to practice different skills that will ultimately enable them to define a personalized self-management program. PACE is a recreational land exercise program that dispels the myth that exercise is damaging to the joints of those living with arthritis. "PACE utilizes gentle activities that help increase joint flexibility and range of motion, while also ensuring that muscle tone and strength are maintained. An added benefit is the natural increase in stamina that comes with exercise," said Kathleen Hodapp, RN, MSN, program coordinator for NJRAC.

The WET program is a recreational exercise program designed to take place in the water of a pool, allowing for exercise without putting stress on muscles and joints. "Water exercise is known to lessen joint stiffness and increase stamina, with an emphasis on having fun. The techniques in the PACE and WET programs are designed to complement the therapeutic exercises prescribed by a therapist," added Hodapp.

NJRAC is a grant-funded community resource that offers an array of programs and services, in addition to the newly added training programs, designed to support those with arthritis. Programs are offered in collaboration with the Arthritis Foundation of New Jersey. Staffed by specially trained nurses and rheumatologists, NJRAC provides valuable information about exercise, nutrition, treatments, and the quality of life issues that affect those with arthritis.

Staff members of NJRAC attended classes organized by the National Arthritis Foundation and received this prestigious certification in Atlanta, Georgia. The NJRAC team is enthusiastic about the certification and confident that they are poised to meet an important community health need. "Our designation as a regional training center will enable the NJRAC to successfully increase the frequency and flexibility of our outreach programs. Individuals with arthritis grapple on a daily basis with basic issues affecting their quality of life and we are extremely pleased with our increased ability to successfully meet their needs," said Dr. Widman.

For more information about NJRAC training programs, or to register for their upcoming offerings, please call Marie Bartello, RN, MS, outreach nurse for NJRAC, (973) 971-6597.

Atlantic Health System, one of the largest non-profit health care systems in New Jersey, includes Morristown Memorial Hospital, Overlook Hospital in Summit, Mountainside Hospital in Montclair/Glen Ridge, The General Hospital Center at Passaic, the Atlantic Rehabilitation Institute in Morristown, and affiliate Newton Memorial Hospital. Atlantic hospitals serve nearly five million people in 11 counties in northern and central New Jersey, have a combined total of 1,832 beds and provide a wide array of health care services. Three of Atlantic's hospitals offer graduate medical education programs with a variety of specialties and have an academic and research affiliation with the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-New Jersey Medical School.

Specialty services include Atlantic Children's Medical Center, Atlantic Neuroscience Institute, The Brain Tumor Center of New Jersey, Atlantic Cancer Centers, North Jersey Regional Arthritis Center, Atlantic Mind Body Center, Atlantic Behavioral Health and Atlantic Home Care and Hospice. Atlantic also maintains a partnership with The Cancer Institute of New Jersey. Atlantic Health System's hospitals, behavioral health program, and home care and hospice program are accredited by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO).

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