Care Resource’s Patient Connector program supports those clients in South Florida who are newly diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, have fallen out of medical care or are facing obstacles to engage in medical care, such as language barriers, literacy, mental health, substance abuse, financial issues, homelessness and relocation.
This program not only provides these clients with the resources to meet their needs and to decrease those barriers, but it provides them with a supportive system focused on empowerment, self-sufficiency and a healthy/productive lifestyle.
This program is part of a national effort called “High Impact Prevention.” The objective is to utilize treatment and adherence to medical treatment to improve the lives of those infected with HIV/AIDs and to reduce the possibility that someone who’s infected with will pass it on to someone else.
Those whose viral loads are undetectable are far less likely to transmit the HIV virus to anyone else. Treatment works, we want to make sure that anyone who wants treatment can get it. High Impact Prevention is one strategy Care Resource is using in conjunction with the Broward County Health Department to reduce the infection rates in Broward County. Strict adherence to HIV medications is key to sustained HIV suppression, reduced risk of drug resistance, improved overall health, quality of life, and survival as well as decreased risk of HIV transmission. Conversely, poor adherence is the major cause of therapeutic failure. Achieving adherence is a critical determinant of long-term outcome in HIV infected patients. If a client is homeless, the Patient Connector program can help them receive assistance from HOPWA (Housing Opportunities for Persons With AIDS). This program provides clients with resources towards permanent housing. In case of emergencies, Care Resource’s Patient Connector staff can form partnerships with local providers to help a client be placed in a safe environment.
Clients in need of medical assistance can be assisted with documentation, insurance coverage/eligibility (Ryan White), medical appointments and medication assistance. According to Patricia Gustafsson, Clinical Counselor with Care Resource, “Many minority groups in Broward county struggle to find resources available to them. They face language barriers, stigma, lack of information regarding HIV diagnosis and its resources. Fortunately, the peers within this program have the resources to aid these groups. In fact, services are even available for those with HIV/AIDS who are not permanent residents or American citizens.” In addition to medical assistance, clients in the program can receive counseling when it comes to mental health and substance abuse. “
According to statistics from the Department of Health, in 2013, the population of HIV positive individuals in Florida is identified as:
- 43% African American
- 30% Caucasian
- 26% Hispanic
- 1% multi-races
In Florida, the number of HIV-related deaths in 2013 decreased by78% since the peak year in 1995, yet increased by 1.3% from the previous year. Since 2007, deaths have maintained a downward trend. However, in Florida as of 2013, African Americans still constitute a majority of HIV-related deaths (58%, 540 of 935 deaths). Meanwhile, Hispanics constitute a lower proportion of HIV-related deaths (12%, 116 of 935 deaths).
The five leading counties in Florida reporting the highest number of HIV cases in 2013 were:
- Miami-Dade (N=1,436)
- Broward (N=1,044)
- Orange (N=470)
- Palm Beach (N=414)
- Hillsborough (N=403)
Broward County was the 2nd leading county with newly diagnosed HIV/AIDS cases in 2013. These bleak numbers do not have to be a reality as the Patient Connector program can provide the local resources like medical care, medication management and case management that can assist clients. For more information regarding Care Resource’s Patient Connector program, contact Patricia Gustafsson at (954) 567-7141 Ext 128 or Ext 108. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or Linda Ortiz, ext. 108.
About Care Resource
Care Resource is a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) that provides comprehensive primary medical and preventive care, including health, oral and mental health/substance abuse services to all individuals in our community. For more information visit, www.careresource.org.