The Lupus Initiative Launches National Program to Develop Transformative Care Model; Embarks On Initiative with Collaborative Partners to Expand Lupus Health Care Access to Underserved Populations

Atlanta, Georgia, UNITED STATES

  • The ACR's The Lupus Initiative offers sorely needed education to health providers, while improving health outcomes for lupus patients living in rural and underserved areas
  • OMH Grant Supports Development of Innovative Model for Bringing Specialty Care to Rural and Underserved America

ATLANTA, Aug. 27, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The American College of Rheumatology's (ACR) The Lupus Initiative (TLI) announced the award of a one-year, $500,000 grant from the Office of Minority Health (OMH) to expand its established, national education program by developing an evidence-based program model intended to improve health outcomes for people with lupus.

The award will help TLI establish a model to bring sorely needed education to health providers, as well as specialty care to patients living in rural and underserved areas who are suffering from lupus – a serious, complex chronic autoimmune condition.

"TLI is committed to developing a scalable and sustainable program model that can be replicated by other organizations for lupus and other diseases," said Sheryl McCalla, JD., TLI Project Director and ACR Senior Director, Collaborative Initiatives. "We believe the approach TLI is developing will help bring clinically, culturally, and linguistically competent lupus care to underserved rural and micropolitan communities across America."

Ultimately, TLI aims to develop an evidence-based program model that effectively addresses the barriers to diagnosis, treatment, and disease management for minorities impacted by lupus, often due to limited access to lupus educational curricula tools and resources that currently exist among practicing health professionals.

To accomplish this, TLI will work collaboratively within an established national network of agencies and organizations. "The model will allow for primary care providers to treat a person with lupus on their own, or co-manage with a geographically-distant rheumatologist, until an appropriate referral can be made. Additionally, we will focus on increasing the awareness of the people in these "silent spaces" about lupus' signs and symptoms," said McCalla.

"This model will be the first of its kind to establish a method to penetrate the most difficult to reach, but most affected, populations: African Americans and American Indian/Alaska Native communities in rural and micropolitan areas of the U.S. where there is a shortage of rheumatologists," said Sam Lim, MD, MPH, Associate Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at Emory University and a nationally recognized lupus expert.

"Lupus can be a debilitating, chronic illnesses but it could be managed if resources were available," said Dr. Lim. "TLI will establish an evidence-based model that other organizations, communities, and agencies can replicate to deliver provider education and access to care for patients in need."

TLI will expand upon its existing infrastructure of partner organizations, resulting in one of the largest, national formal collaborations of lupus stakeholders. The collaborative partners for this current grant include the following stakeholders:

  • Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium
  • Emory University School of Medicine
  • Georgia Charitable Care Network
  • National Association of Chronic Disease Directors
  • Southwest Georgia Area Health Education Center
  • Oregon Area Health Education Center
  • Northwestern University
  • Morehouse School of Medicine

Established in 2009, TLI has received multiple awards from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to develop educational resources for medical providers and for persons with lupus and their families and caregivers to assist them in the recognition, diagnosis, treatment, and management of lupus. To date, evaluation results demonstrate the programs have been successful and impactful.

About TLI

The Lupus Initiative is a multi-faceted education program led by the American College of Rheumatology that provides medical professionals, educators, and students with evidence-based programs and easy-to-use educational resources to ensure the early and accurate diagnosis, effective treatment and management of patients with lupus, regardless of age, gender, race, ethnicity or socioeconomic status, so that they may potentially lead healthier lives.

The Lupus Initiative is funded in part by a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services through its Office of Minority Health. The Lupus Initiative is guided by experts in medicine, public health, academia, research, patient advocacy, and health disparities. For more information about The Lupus Initiative, visit

About the ACR

The American College of Rheumatology is an international professional medical society that represents more than 9,400 rheumatologists and rheumatology health professionals around the world. Its mission is to Advance Rheumatology! For more information about the ACR, visit


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