Cranston Herald: Telling the story of Alzheimer’s

Cranston Herald: Telling the story of Alzheimer’s

The story is the message and the Alzheimer’s Association, Rhode Island Chapter was looking for stories as it launched a series of 21 meetings across the state Monday in an effort to underscore the effects of a disease that has no cure and, according to members of the state’s congressional delegation, threatens to financially cripple our healthcare system.

The first of those storytelling sessions was preceded by “Coffee with Congress” at the Warwick Public Library where Congressmen David Cicilline and James Langevin, and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse outlined funding programs to fight Alzheimer’s.

“Personal stories are an effective way to help policymakers understand how their work affects people. That’s where you come in as an advocate,” Donna McGowan, executive director of the state Alzheimer’s Association said in opening remarks.

There were personal accounts like that of former Warwick Representative Neil Corkery, who is enrolled in an experimental program and talked of the importance of the care he receives as a patient with Alzheimer’s. He lamented how the administration is focused on tax cuts and dismissed the importance of health care.

There were nods of agreement from the congressional delegation.

Colin Burns, a former Warwick resident and graduate of Hendricken, likewise had the congressional delegation’s attention. Burns, who is pursuing a doctor of nursing practice degree at URI, questioned what efforts are being taken to develop the workforce to provide geriatric care.

Cicilline vowed to get back to Burns with answers and Langevin, noting his dependence upon caregivers, said there needs to be incentives to get young people into geriatric care.

Yet it was the statistics that defined the magnitude and impact of the disease.

McGowan said that deaths from Alzheimer’s continue to rise, with data showing that the numbers of deaths have more than doubled between 2000 and 2015, an increase of 123 percent.

“What’s more, is that Alzheimer’s is the only leading cause of death in the U.S. that cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed,” she said.

“Alzheimer’s disease poses an increasingly dire threat to our nation’s fiscal future,” she said.

McGowan called the disease the most expensive in America, saying that total payments to care for individuals living with Alzheimer’s or other dementias is $277 billion, which includes an increase of nearly $20 billion from last year.

“Unless we move quickly to address this crisis and find better treatments for those who have it, these costs will grow swiftly in lock step with the numbers of those affected, and Alzheimer’s will increasingly overwhelm our healthcare system,” she said.

She said there are presently 23,000 Rhode Islanders living with Alzheimer’s disease.

Master of ceremonies Lt. Gov. Daniel McKee outlined legislation aimed at combating Alzheimer’s and the work going into updating Rhode Island’s State Plan. Stories and information gathered from the 21 town hall meetings will be integrated into a report to be delivered early next year to the General Assembly. The meetings are being held through Aug. 10.

“So when you think about the economic impact and statistics of this disease, our healthcare costs are rather enormous. This is an urgent health priority to end this disease. It is a burden on families and if it goes unnoticed it will crush our healthcare system,” said Congressman Cicilline.

Whitehouse offered a glimmer of hope.

He called the Rhode Island Alzheimer’s Association a real model for advocacy, adding, “bit by bit we are showing signs and there is a sense of optimism in Alzheimer’s research. The United States of America has the best clinical research capability in the world, bar none. To have that addressing this problem with that kind of research and support behind it, I think is really a cause for optimism,” he said.

The Alzheimer’s Association Rhode Island Chapter provides programs and services to people living with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers, including: a 24/7 Helpline (800.272.3900); peer and professionally led support groups; early-stage social engagement programs; educational programs both online and in person; safety services including MedicAlert® and Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return®; and healthcare professional training on Alzheimer’s disease.

“This disease is relentless, but so are we,” vowed McGowan.

Patch: Langevin To Meet Senior Citizens Tuesday

Patch: Langevin To Meet Senior Citizens Tuesday

By News Desk

NARRAGANSETT-SOUTH KINGSTOWN, RI – From Congressman Jim Langevin: Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) will hold a series of visits focused on issues important to Rhode Island seniors tomorrow, Tuesday, August 7th. These South County based meetings will cover topics related to Medicare, Social Security, Alzheimer’s research, and other issues affecting seniors. This themed day is one of several that comprise the Langevin Listening Tour, a district-wide initiative Langevin is leading to collect feedback and gain insight from constituents.

“I look forward to meeting with seniors in my district and listening to their concerns,” said Congressman Langevin. “Seniors have unique needs that deserve our attention, and I am committed to staying engaged on the issues that affect them.”

Congressman Langevin has long been a strong advocate on behalf of Rhode Island’s senior population”, said Susan DiMasi, Senior Services Director for the Town of South Kingstown. “I’m grateful he is considering the input of seniors as a part of his listening tour.”

The complete schedule for tomorrow is listed below. Updates on tomorrow’s events, and the entire Langevin Listening Tour, will be posted to Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram using the hashtag #LangevinListeningTour.


Tuesday, August 7:

WHAT: Congressman Langevin will host “It’s All About Seniors,” a town hall style event with representatives from Medicare and Social Security.

WHERE: Brookdale South Bay, 1959 Kingstown Road, South Kingstown, RI 02879

WHEN: 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.


WHAT: Congressman Langevin will tour the George & Anne Ryan Institute for Neuroscience at the University of Rhode Island and receive a briefing on their latest Alzheimer’s research.

WHERE: 130 Flagg Road, Kingston, RI 02881

WHEN: 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.


Foreign Affairs: RI Fire Departments Receive $107K to Purchase Gear & Improve Safety

Foreign Affairs: RI Fire Departments Receive $107K to Purchase Gear & Improve Safety

CENTRAL FALLS, RI – Today, U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and Congressmen Jim Langevin and David Cicilline announced $106,668 in federal funding to help the Central Falls Fire Department, Kingston Fire Department, and Albion Fire District purchase needed equipment and gear to help them better serve their communities.  The funding is being awarded through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) Program.

The Central Falls Fire Department will use $59,048 to purchase a Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) washer/extractor dryer, which the department currently lacks.  The equipment will help the department ensure both efficient cleaning of essential gear and the swift and effective returning of gear to service.  The department will also use the funds to replace its aging self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) air compressor refill system.

The Kington Fire Department will receive $34,286 to help purchase gear for firefighters currently sharing or wearing spare sets of uniforms, air masks, hoods, gloves, and other items.  The Department is seeking the new items as a result of increased recruitment and retention success among its ranks, many of whom are students at the University of Rhode Island.

The Albion Fire District in Lincoln will receive $13,334 for a protective gear washing machine to deep-clean gear and protect firefighters from hazardous carcinogens, chemicals, biological agents, and particulate matter.

“These federal funds will support our firefighters and improve public safety.  I was pleased to work closely with fire departments and local leaders in Central Falls, Kingston, and Albion to help deliver these funds,” said Senator Reed, a senior member of the Appropriations Committee that oversees FEMA funding and helped include $350 million in competitive AFG funding for first responder organizations across the country in the 2018 Omnibus Appropriations law.  “I will continue doing everything I can at the federal level to help our firefighters protect our communities and improve emergency response capabilities.”

“I congratulate the fire departments in Central Falls, Lincoln, and South Kingstown that won federal grants to purchase new equipment,” said Senator Whitehouse.  “Firefighters deserve the very best tools available to carry out the job of keeping the people of Rhode Island safe.”

“It is imperative that we provide the most up-to-date equipment necessary to keep our firefighters safe as they respond to emergency calls throughout our communities,” said Congressman Jim Langevin, a senior member of the Committee on Homeland Security, which oversees the AFG program. “I congratulate each of the departments for winning these highly-competitive federal grants, which will help protect the health and safety of our brave first responders.”

“This critical funding will provide incredibly valuable resources for our first responders,” said Congressman Cicilline, who worked directly with Central Falls and Lincoln to secure this new funding.  “Our first responders should always have access to the best equipment available so they can do their jobs safely and effectively.”

The support offered to the Central Falls Fire Department by Senator Reed and the other members of our Congressional Delegation is invaluable,” said Chief Robert Bradley of the Central Falls Fire Department.  “The process for the Assistance to Fire Fighter Grants has become more and more competitive each year and the support and guidance received has made an immeasurable difference. Their expertise has shone through and has become increasingly evident as “Lil Rhody” continues being awarded their grant requests.”

“We appreciate the efforts of Senator Reed and Congressman Langevin for their ongoing support of the Fire Service,” said Chief Nathan Barrington of the Kingston Fire Department.  “The grant provided will dovetail nicely with the Safer Grant we received for recruitment and retention.  Recruitment and retention of volunteer firefighters is a critical need.  As evidenced by the unfortunate fire in Richmond this past Sunday the role of the volunteer fire departments is critical.  The large bulk of the responding departments were volunteer.  Kingston Fire provided over 250 volunteer man hours combating this blaze and we were just one example of the over 20 departments that responded.”

“This new washer and dryer system is a welcome addition for our department that will help protect our firefighters from toxic and dangerous carcinogens and cancer-causing agents,” said Chief Richard Andrews of the Albion Fire District.  “We’re grateful to receive these funds and we look forward to continuing our work in the community while taking the necessary precautions to perform our job safely and effectively.”

Since 2001, Rhode Island fire departments and other first responders across the state have successfully secured over $36 million in AFG awards to pay for equipment upgrades, protective gear, emergency vehicles, training, and other resources.

Warwick Post: Langevin talks growth, small business needs with local chambers of commerce

Warwick Post: Langevin talks growth, small business needs with local chambers of commerce

By Rob Borkowski

EAST GREENWICH — Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) hosted three roundtable discussions with leaders in the Rhode Island small business community Thursday, focusing on business needs and economic growth strategies, the first of many themed days for the Langevin Listening Tour, a district-wide initiative Langevin is leading to collect feedback and gain insight from constituents.

“Small businesses are the engine that drives Rhode Island’s economy,” said Congressman Langevin. “They support economic activity, help build communities, and employ the majority of private sector workers in our state. I look forward to engaging with local business leaders and listening to their ideas to improve our business climate and foster further economic growth.”

“We need to all work together to provide resources and assistance to small businesses and to the community groups that support economic development.” said John Kevorkian, a Partner at Sprout CoWorking who is hosting Congressman Langevin for a tour before the first roundtable event with members of the co-working and incubator community.

Congressman Langevin is a tireless advocate for small business in Rhode Island,” said Lauren Slocum, the Executive Director of Central Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce and the lead organizer of the roundtable at the New England Institute of Technology. “I am pleased to see he is continuing his outreach, and I look forward to a spirited discussion of the issues.”

“This convening session provides an opportunity for a sampling of our chamber members and of other chambers to voice their pressing concerns about operating a small business in Rhode Island”, said Kristin Urbach, the Executive Director of the North Kingstown Chamber of Commerce. “Based on our past experience with Congressman Langevin, we know that he is not only a great listener, but also a leader who takes action and follows up to achieve the desired outcome. We’re honored that the Congressman selected Dan’s Carriage Inn located in North Kingstown for his South County small business event.”

Disability Scoop: Community Living Agency Denies Disability ‘Segregation’ Remarks

Disability Scoop: Community Living Agency Denies Disability ‘Segregation’ Remarks

By Michelle Diament

A federal agency responsible for community living is reaffirming its mission following allegations that a top official publicly stated that she favored “segregation” of people with disabilities.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Community Living said it is committed to making “community living possible for all.”

The assertion comes in a letter to members of Congress weeks after the agency’s principal deputy administrator, Mary Lazare, spoke at two disability group conferences. A similar set of remarks during both appearances left some advocates alarmed and sparked concerns from a bipartisan group of federal lawmakers.

In letters sent to Lance Robertson, who heads the Administration for Community Living, last month, the lawmakers said they were told that Lazare indicated that the Supreme Court came to the wrong conclusion in the landmark Olmstead v. L.C. case, which affirmed the right of people with disabilities to access community-based living.

Furthermore, the letters from U.S. Reps. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., Gregg Harper, R-Miss., and Jim Langevin, D-R.I., as well as Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., said Lazare reportedly stated a preference for segregated and institutional settings.

There are believed to be no recordings of the appearances, which Lazare made at conferences put on by the Autism Society and the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities during the same July day.

However, later that day, Lazare seemed to back away from her own words through a statement on the Administration for Community Living’s Twitter page.

“I regret & apologize for my words at #ASAconf18,” thestatement read. “ACL believes ppl w/disabilities have the right & choice to live in the community. We work to expand those opptys & are 100% committed to that mission. We also recognize Olmstead gives people the right to other choices.”

Now, in a written response to members of Congress, ACL’s Robertson is denying that Lazare expressed the alleged views.

“As you know, Principal Deputy Administrator Mary Lazare spoke on July 11 at two events. We know portions of her remarks caused concerns, which we are happy to address. I want to assure you that she did not state, or intend to express, the opinions referenced in your letter,” Robertson wrote.

“At ACL, we believe community living should always be the expectation,” he continued. “An integral part of our mandate is to uphold those rights guaranteed in the Americans with Disabilities Act and reinforced through the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Olmstead v. L.C., which we fully support.”

In addition, Robertson said his agency remains “firmly committed” to supporting the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in implementing a Medicaid rule outlining what types of settings qualify as community-based. The lawmakers had indicated that Lazare reportedly said the rule should be revisited.

Even with the response, Langevin said he remains unsatisfied.

“Despite the agency’s assertion that Ms. Lazare ‘did not state, or intend to express, the opinions referenced in (our) letter,’ I remain concerned that we received no additional information or clarification on her original remarks,” the congressman told Disability Scoop. “People with disabilities deserve to be fully included in society, and any suggestion to the contrary is simply unacceptable.”

Coventry Courier: Amgen breaks ground on biotech plant

Coventry Courier: Amgen breaks ground on biotech plant

By Kendra Port

WEST GREENWICH –– On Tuesday morning local and state officials gathered for the groundbreaking of Amgen’s new next-generation biomanufacturing facility in West Greenwich. The new plant, which will be built on Amgen’s existing 75-acre West Greenwich campus, will be the first next-generation biomanufacturing plant in the country.

The multinational biopharmaceutical company headquartered out of Thousand Oaks, California, plans to invest up to $200 million in the approximately 120,000 square foot plant, which is expected to create about 150 new highly-skilled manufacturing positions and three to four-hundred construction jobs.

The company has been behind some of the most ground breaking pharmaceuticals on the market, including a drug to prevent infections in chemotherapy patients as well as treatment for rheumatoid arthritis and autoimmune diseases. To date they are considered the world’s largest biotechnology company, creating substances for nearly 10 different medications. Their West Greenwich facility is primarily devoted to the production of the protein therapeutic ENBREL.

“We understand that serving patients is a privilege and it comes with a great deal of responsibility,” said Amgen Vice President Tia Bush. “Our nearly 600 staff members demonstrate their commitment each and every day to serve every patient every time. Amgen has transformed from a reliable supplier of a single product into an agile manufacturer of multiple products. Constructing this next-generation plant in Rhode Island further enhances our manufacturing capabilities within Amgen’s global operations network to deliver on our mission to serve patients.”

A next-generation biomanufactring plant, according to Bush, incorporates numerous innovative technologies into a single facility, allowing it to be built in half the construction time for about one half of the operating cost of a traditional plant. She said next-generation biomanufacutring plants require a smaller manufacturing footprint, thereby offering greater environmental benefits such as reduced consumption of water and energy and lower levels of carbon emissions.

The equipment within the plant will be portable and smaller than that of a traditional facility. Some components will also be disposable. Officials say this will eliminate the costly and complex retrofitting needs inherent in traditional plants.

“It will be 75 percent smaller, meaning it will have a significantly reduced environmental footprint,” said Amgen Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Robert Bradway. “We expect to invest more than $3.5 million in capital expenditures, with 75 percent of that taking place here in the United States.”

Bradway said Amgen is grateful for the incentives offered to them when negotiating a location for the new plant and said that Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo has been a supporter every step of the way.

“We’re committed to providing the state with an attractive return on that investment,” said Bradway. “This will create 150 new manufacturing jobs, and thanks to the growing life sciences community in this area we’re confident we can find the talent we need in Rhode Island today and in the future. This is an exciting time for our industry and company. We’re thrilled to be doing this important work in the state of Rhode Island.”

In her remarks Governor Gina Raimondo thanked Amgen for selecting Rhode Island for their new facility.

“The reality is we recognize that Amgen has options not just globally but within America,” said Raimondo. “There are 50 states, and you could have gone anywhere. Thank you for choosing Rhode Island.”

Raimondo said Rhode Island has “a long and rich history of innovation,” starting with jewelry manufacturing and now with biotechology.

“We are a state where you can make a living making things, and that’s why we as a state continue to invest in job training to make it easier for these manufactures to grow and retain people here,”” she said. “We want to grow with you and invest in the job training and technical programs that you need to hire the team that you need. It is my hope your investment here is just the beginning and we can build out.”

“It’s a great time for Amgen to be doubling down on Rhode Island,” Raimondo added. “Rhode Island really is on the move.”

Congressman James Langevin praised Amgen for what he called a “responsible environmental design.”

“The construction of this plant is important,” he said. “It will foster economic growth, and the medicines they produce provide hope and opportunities for people across the nation. This plant also represents a new frontier of new treatments and the promise of a future with reduced suffering from diseases.”

The existing Amgen plant in Rhode Island received a license from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in September of 2005 and is home to one of the world’s largest mammalian protein manufacturing sites. That facility currently produces commercial and clinical bulk drug substances.

More than $1.5 billion has been invested in the Rhode Island Amgen campus. The existing facility already employs 625 full time staff members in Rhode Island. The Amgen Foundation has committed more than $4.8 million to support science education and community programs in Rhode Island.

“We’re so excited about the momentum here,” said Rhode Island Secretary of Commerce Stefan Pryor. “Amgen is one of those great companies making Rhode Island a better place.

West Greenwich Town Administrator Kevin Breene also thanked Amgen for selecting West Greenwich for the new plant.

“I was a young town council President when the state put this industrial park together,” said Breene. “Now the longest standing tenant has been Amgen.”

Breene recalled being told last January that West Greenwich might be in the running for the new facility.

“We knew we were competing with other sites around the country,” he said. “There were times we didn’t think we’d get over the jump.”

Also present for the ceremony was Hopkins Hill Fire District Chief Frank Brown, who said although the propertty is technically in West Greenwich, the fire district has been covering Amgen since it opened.

“It’s a great day,” said Brown. “It’s good for the state and it’s good for the local community.”