Parkinson’s disease sufferers in Douglas County will have more options in the near future to help cope with the effects of the disease.

Parkinson’s Resources of Oregon plans to expand to three new communities throughout the region and has selected Roseburg as one of those areas.

The expansion will bring a series of lectures, grant funding for new exercise classes, developing a support group, and providing personal support for individuals living with Parkinson’s.

The organization, headquartered in Beaverton with offices in Bend and Eugene, will hold a seminar at 6 p.m. June 26 at the Community Cancer Center in Roseburg. The seminar is called Basics and Beyond, with guest speaker Dr. Joseph Quinn, the director of the Parkinson’s program at Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland.

The program is part of a larger initiative to expand access to services and education throughout the region. Roseburg was selected along with Pendleton and Prineville to launch the series, receive grant funding for new exercise classes, support for group development and personal support for people living with the disease.

“Because of the retirement of Dr. (Jerry) Boggs, (the only Roseburg-based neurologist), the community is going to be struggling a little bit without a neurologist to step in, so we want to be sure we’re providing the education and support for the community during that gap,” said Holly Chaimov, the executive director of PRO.

Lauren Tietsort, the development director for PRO, said the organization works to bridge the gap between medical care and wellness. Exercise classes are a big part of that.

“The one thing that has been proven about this disease ... is that exercise can slow down the progression and ease the symptoms, so we’re helping make sure there are exercise programs going on,” Tietsort said.

Steve Grieb of Roseburg was diagnosed with Parkinson’s two years ago. He started participating in the Pedal for Parkinson’s class three times a week at the YMCA of Douglas County, and said it’s made a big difference for him.

“It’s helped me a lot,” Grieb said. “For the last couple of years I rode pretty much exclusively inside in this class, but just lately, I started going outside again and I’m stronger now than I was two years ago. It’s a good class.”

Sandy Hendy of Roseburg, who co-facilitates the support group that meets in Roseburg that PRO is a part of, thinks the expansion of services in the county will be helpful to patients in Douglas County that have limited resources.

“There are so many people out there coming in contact with the disease that we need to spread the word that there are different things for you to do in your community and people aren’t taking advantage of those right now,” Hendy said. “I’m really happy they’re coming to Roseburg so we can get more resources for people.”

Hendy was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2005. She has kept active and said it’s paid off for her.

“When I’m on and the meds are working correctly, people don’t even know, they say, ‘You have what?’ But you have to keep a really active lifestyle,” Hendy said.

Parkinson’s is a disease that affects the nerve cells in the brain that produce dopamine. Symptoms include muscle rigidity, tremors, and changes in speech and walking. Treatments can help relieve symptoms, but there is no cure.

If you would like to register for the event at the Community Cancer Center in Roseburg, Libby Kennard can be reached at 541-345-2988 or go to

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Dan Bain is the health reporter for The News-Review. He previously worked at KPIC and 541 Radio.

(1) comment


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