LDA RI Chapter Celebrates A Decade of Accomplishments. Julie Merolla, LICSW, BCD, Chairperson honored for her efforts.
The LDA agenda has made significant strides in the past ten years culminating this year with the recognition of Julie Merolla, LICSW, BCD, Chair of the LDA Rhode Island Chapter. Ms. Merolla was one of five women honored on Oct. 21, 2012 for the “Women Who Make a Difference Award” by the General Federation of Women’s Club of South County (GFWC). Ms. Merolla was nominated by Theresa Schimmel, a board member of the GFWC of South County.
The LDA RI Chapter was formed in 2003 to raise public awareness concerning the growing epidemic of Lyme Disease and other tick-borne diseases in Rhode Island. In addition to distributing informational packets, the chapter has hosted educational events at local hospitals, schools, and community groups. In 2003 the RI Chapter assisted in passing The Lyme Disease and Treatment Act (H6136). The act requires insurance companies to reimburse patients for long-term antibiotic treatment of Lyme disease, and protects doctors from being sanctioned for treating Lyme disease as they see fit. The nationally based LDA helped to mobilize thousands of volunteers throughout the country to assist the RI Chapter with the passage of this legislation.
Ms. Merolla has testified before the General Assembly in support of the “Beth Bowley Coen Lyme Disease Educational Act.” This act requires Lyme disease awareness be taught as part of Rhode Island’s elementary and secondary public school health education curriculum. The bill has passed thus far as an unfunded mandate.
In 2011, the Rhode Island chapter produced a daylong educational seminar for mental health professionals, hosted at Bryant University, titled “The Effects of Lyme Disease on the Brain.” Over 170 professionals attended the seminar, including Congressman James Langevin – a featured speaker. The Congressman has supported federal legislation that would include federal funds to develop better diagnostic tools and tests and expand educational efforts.
Congressman James Langevin (D-RI) and Congressmen Rob Smith (R-CT) previously assisted in hosting a bi-partisan forum at Westerly Hospital in RI. The forum addressed problems that affect Lyme disease patients and physicians. Langevin also assisted Ms. Merolla in having Dr. Brian Fallon from Columbia University present his research on Lyme disease at “The Summer Disease of the Month Series” at South County Hospital in RI. Additionally, the Congressman chose the RI Chapter as recipient of monies from an annual holiday fundraiser at the Aldrich Mansion in Warwick, RI.
Local Sponsors of the RI Chapter have included NBC 10, The Apple Pickers Foundation, Bryant University, The National Association of Social Workers RI Chapter, Providence Rotary Charities Foundation, and Sir Speedy Providence.
Ms. Merolla has been frequently interviewed by, Barbara Morse Silva, Health Check NBC 10 TV reporter. Ms. Morse Silva moderated the RI Chapter’s recent educational seminar at Bryant University, and presented Merolla with the “Women Who Make a Difference Award”. Awards went to Julie Merolla, LICSW, BCD in the Social Services category, Deborah Dunham in the Arts category, Jeannine Silversmith in the Conservation category, Helen Douglas in the Education category, and Cindy Duncan in the Grow Hope category.
See Warwick Beacon (warwickonline.com) for press release