Browsing Category: Access2Care

California Dreaming

by Liz Brosnan, Executive Director, Christie’s Place, San Diego, CA

As I read my colleague’s wonderful blog yesterday citing her “enthusiastic trepidation,” Michael Jackson’s song “You Are Not Alone” rang through my head. A moment later I envisioned all 80 convening participants covering that song as a Glee spoof.  Naturally, I was leading the chorus as Glee’s substitute teacher Holly Holliday, so adeptly played by Gwyneth Paltrow.  While I’m a far cry from Gwyneth, a girl can dream . . . heck, a girl should dream.

The convening commenced with welcoming remarks from AIDS United President & CEO Mark Ishaug.  His energy and enthusiasm quickly became contagious and light surfaced at the end of the ominous match tunnel.  Day one built solidarity amongst grantees as well as bridged communities from across the country through networking, sharing best practices and strategies. The richness of experience and expertise is best expressed via an excerpt from a poem written by a positive man shared in a documentary this afternoon: “Are you inspired?  You should be.”

As we roll up our sleeves even more on day two of the convening, there are a few things that resonate most with me.  Rebecca Denison, WORLD Founder, discussed the ingredients that help keep people in care in her talk entitled “The Art of Keeping People in Care.” In a nutshell, that is the essence of this ambitious Access to Care Initiative (A2C).  She emphasized the power of the peer, a strategy that is pervasive amongst grantees.  I found myself surprisingly excited about evaluation (please don’t stop reading here – it’s really not a dirty word).  The national evaluation, an effort led by John Hopkins University, will lift up our work by measuring our collective impact on individuals, systems and communities.  Finally, as we embark on the era of healthcare reform, we are uniquely positioned to lead the way.  We are pioneers transforming healthcare through this initiative.

A2C represents the power to ignite change through innovation.  As we create new pathways to care and strengthen existing ones, it is clear to me that this work will not only build healthier communities, it will also produce models that will be replicated in other sectors.

As a Walmart and Social Innovation Fund (SIF) grantee from San Diego, CA, this initiative has been a game changer for Christie’s Place – and that’s putting it mildly.  In San Diego County an alarming 69% of HIV+ women who know their status are not in care.  With A2C support we now have the resources to reach those women as well as engage and retain them in care with cutting-edge strategies and by improving our service delivery system.  Up until six months ago, I could only dream about having the resources to be able to address and reduce the unmet need that exists for women.  SIF is about dreaming, dreaming big.  More than that, it’s about turning those dreams into reality.  It is turning our “what if” into our “what is.”  After all, a girl can dream . . . a girl should dream.

Opportunity – and transformation – knocking!

by Cheryl Roberts Oliver, Executive Director, Saint Louis Effort for AIDS

At 2 this morning, the words “opportunity and transformation” were not on my mind, but after the first day of the AIDS United Access to Care Initiative Grantee Convening, they are at the top of my mind.  The sleepless night (one of many) caused by the daunting task of raising funds to match the Social Innovation Funds just granted to Saint Louis Effort for AIDS has also been experienced by representatives of the other nine agencies that were awarded SIF grants.  Today I learned that AIDS United must raise $3.6 million matching funds by August, and that none of us are alone in our challenges or our incredible enthusiasm to create innovative programs that will truly transform healthcare models, not just as they relate to HIV/AIDS, but how we approach chronic diseases among vulnerable populations across the country.

Being with my colleagues and sharing information has raised my awareness and my spirits.  The “opportunity” is that this is the first time there is a significant chunk of non-HIV money going into the HIV community, and each of the grantees can leverage each federal dollar so that in the end we are tripling the amount.  More importantly, the projects that we are implementing will change systems and provide new answers to old problems.  I suspect that I may wake up again at 2 a.m. tomorrow, but feel confident now that I will focus on how the work of these public/private partnerships will help us tackle the real causes of illness in our communities.

The convening in New Orleans is the biggest and most complex for AIDS United because it includes the 10 SIF grantees, plus the Positive Charge and Wal-Mart grantees.  The messages that come out of this meeting will help shape our communication about how we will get PLWHA into care.  Urban, suburban and rural initiatives will be implemented over the next twelve months.  At the end, instead of saying “what the heck have we gotten ourselves into” we will be realizing the benefits of having moved HIV/AIDS thinking out of silos and into a learning community.  Enthusiastic trepidation, matched by so many caring and creative minds, is bound to be transformative.

Team NOLA on MLK Day

In honor of MLK Day, Team NOLA participated in a fire safety event organized by the Southeast Louisiana chapter of the American Red Cross.

Early Saturday morning, we arrived at the Pilgrim Progress Missionary Baptist Church. There were about 50 volunteers all together, mostly from the Red Cross Clubs of local universities.

We all had some breakfast, and then a local fire chief presented a brief introduction to fire safety. He also gave us a phone number that people can call to receive a free smoke detector.

The neighborhood was divided into sectors and each group of volunteers was assigned to canvass a certain sector. A Red Cross member led each group.

We went from house to house, placing door hangers with fire safety information on door knobs and talking to people in the neighborhood. The day was beautiful, and the residents were very friendly. We hope that people will read the door hangers we left, and that the information will save lives.

Together, volunteers canvassed 1,940 houses that day.

Linking PLWHA in Louisiana to the HIV Care They Need

by Michael Robinson, Program Coordinator
Health Systems Division- HIV/AIDS Programs
Louisiana Community AIDS Partnership
Louisiana Public Health Institute

According to 2008 statistics released recently by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Baton Rouge metropolitan area ranks second in the nation in AIDS case rates, and New Orleans is No. 3. Nationally, Louisiana ranked 5th highest in AIDS case rates and 11th in the number of AIDS cases diagnosed in 2007, according to the CDC 2007 HIV/AIDS Surveillance Report (Vol. 19).

As we here in Louisiana face one of our greatest Public Health threats, The Louisiana Community AIDS Partnership, a statewide collaborative convened by the Louisiana Public Health Institute (LPHI) in alliance with the National AIDS Fund (NAF) and the Louisiana Office of Public Health HIV/AIDS Program, is uniquely poised to make a meaningful impact in helping individuals access the support and care that they need by bringing much needed attention and funding from both the national and local level through public-private partnerships.  The Partnership is in its first year of implementing the Positive Charge Initiative, a multi-year effort aimed at helping to break down the barriers that prevent people living with HIV from receiving HIV care, treatment and necessary support. The initiative’s foundation rests upon strong partnerships with local area organizations to meet the unique needs of individuals living with HIV and will be implemented in New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Shreveport.  Positive Charge is made possible by a grant from National AIDS Fund through a separate grant made by Bristol-Myers Squibb to NAF.

Over the course of the next three years, these partnerships aim to

1) Increase the number of persons living with HIV/AIDS who receive care by improving linkages to medical care and supportive services

2) Work together with the public hospital system, regional STD clinics, and Orleans Parish Prison to help individuals who are newly diagnosed with HIV get into care

3) Increase the number of persons living with HIV/AIDS, who have disconnected from care get back into a care environment that meets their continuing needs

4) Provide interventions that are implemented and led by HIV positive individuals, who will act as peer health case managers.

The relationship between LCAP and its grantees works well because LCAP does not see itself as a “funder” but as a partner with the agencies. This perspective has fostered a relationship where the Partnership is able to provide hands-on involvement in the development of the intervention, a rigorous plan for evaluation  and a capacity building and technical assistance plan for the agencies themselves.  The Partnership is working with partner agencies to implement the following programs:

1) Brief intensive strengths-based linkage case management (ARTAS model) will focus on those who are newly diagnosed to help them access care with the help of a linkage case manager.  Our partners for this intervention are St. John #5/Camp ACE and the Louisiana Office of Public Health HIV/AIDS Program. With this unique paring they will reach out to individuals in the Greater New Orleans area.

2) HIV-Specific Disease Intervention Specialist (DIS) will focus on those who have fallen out of care to connect persons identified in clinics as being out of care and those identified through public testing sites and the Louisiana Public Health Information Exchange (LaPHIE) network as being out of care. We are grateful to have The Louisiana Office of Public Health-STD Program and Office of Public Health-HIV/AIDS Program as our partners for this intervention.

3) Community Based Health Educator/Navigator in a hospital based clinic intervention focus on those who have fallen out of care in hospital based clinics through intensive follow-up after missed appointments. N’R PEACE, Inc., a local grassroots AIDS Service Organization and The ILH HIV/AIDS Outpatient Clinic will target its efforts in the New Orleans area.

4) The Pre/Post-Release Case Manager intervention will work with inmates who are HIV positive to provide case management services while in prison and attempt to assure continuity of care after release. Targeting individuals in the Greater New Orleans area, our partners NO/AIDS Task Force and Orleans Parish Prison (OPP) have the ideal relationship to assist these individuals.

5) And finally our Community Based Health Navigation intervention will focus on those who have fallen out of care in hospital based clinics to ascertain their needs and provide peer support. We believe that our partners, the Earl K. Long Earl Intervention Clinic (EKL-EIC) and Capital Area Reentry Program (CARP) are uniquely positioned in the Baton Rouge area to provide the most impact to individuals needing assistance.

The Partnership is particularly excited about the opportunity that Positive Charge brings to build upon and expand already existing programs that increase access to care for those with HIV/AIDS as well as adding innovative interventions that are proven to increase the chances that someone will feel comfortable accessing care. In addition, the Partnership is proud of our strong collaboration with the State HIV/AIDS program so that programmatic design, decision making and evaluation can be based on surveillance data which indicate the areas of greatest need and will help monitor the success of program interventions. We are discovering the Partnership’s greatest asset is its ability to partner with a diverse set of stakeholders who represent entities such as the public hospital system, grass roots community based organizations and the prison system. In addition, the Partnership is fortunate to have a very dedicated group of partners at all levels.