Faced with seven months of chemo and radiation for breast cancer, Mary Ann Sundberg had so many questions about her condition, treatment and Medicare coverage that she figured she’d turn to that vast repository of information: the Internet. It was like falling into a deep sea when all she really wanted was a wading pool.
“At the same time I was going through cancer treatments, I was trying to deal with becoming as knowledgeable as possible, and struggling to find sites I felt were validated, because there’s just a lot of garbage out there,” she said.
She believes a new website that officially launches Wednesday would have been a godsend. Called the Network of Care for Seniors & People with Disabilities, the site is a gold mine of information, referrals and resources on a broad variety of subjects, including health care, financial assistance, transportation and housing, grieving and stress. It also features message boards, a social networking site, a link to clinical trials and — Sundberg’s favorite – a place to create a personalized medical record.
“I like to think of it as working in a couple of ways: For each community — in our case, El Paso, Park and Teller counties — we put information specific to our region in the system,” said Guy Dutra-Silveira, director of the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments Area Agency on Aging, which is launching the site. “But at the same time, the Network of Care gathers information on, say, Alzheimer’s Disease or diabetes or any number of health issues that it gathers nationally and makes available on our local website. So it’s the best of both worlds.”
A San Diego company, Trilogy Integrated Resources, developed the Network of Care as a one-stop-shopping service for targeted populations. PPACG already operates one for members of the military and veterans. The one for seniors and disabled adults is operating in four states, including Colorado, where Boulder has had it going for about three years.
“I think they get a million hits a quarter,” he said.
The Area Agency on Aging did a soft launch of the site, http://pikespeak.co.networkofcare.org/aging, and has been gauging the response from users like Sundberg.
“I wish I’d had it seven months ago,” said the 65-year-old, whose cancer treatments recently ended. “It kind of eliminates all those other things that you have to sort through when you’re looking for something, and it’s just so easy to get into. I feel much more confident with their website that what I’m looking at, someone has validated.”
PPACG Area Agency on Aging is holding a launch ceremony from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, where the public can watch a demonstration of the site and try it out on a bank of computers. The office is at 14. S. Chestnut Street. Light refreshments will be available.