Upstate News

November 26, 2008
Doretta Royer 315 464-4833

Designated AIDS Center awarded state grant for treatment program

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — The state Health Department has awarded a five-year grant of more than $670,000 to the Designated AIDS Center at SUNY Upstate Medical University to expand its treatment adherence program adult and pediatric HIV-positive patients and their significant support persons who live in an 11-county region of upstate New York.

Services provided by the program will be based on the center’s “Transtheoretical Model of Learning: Stage of Change Theory” that will provide the framework for assessing the treatment readiness of each patient and help them to adhere to treatment programs. Better adherence leads to better health outcomes for patients, fewer hospitalizations and emergency room visits, the prevention of new HIV infections and a reduction of healthcare costs.

“The large geographic area covered by the center can in itself be a barrier to treatment adherence,” said center social worker Kelley Flood, L.M.S.W. “There are several urban centers, but the majority of patients live in rural areas. The lack of public transportation, winter weather conditions and geographic distance can impede a patient’s ability to get to their medical appointments.”

The center’s multi-disciplinary team approach allows staff to address the needs of and assist patients in breaking down barriers that can impede their ability to successfully deal with the challenges of HIV as a chronic illness. “This funding allows us to develop a more comprehensive consumer-focused treatment adherence program,” said Linda Bartlett, R.N., who will serve as the lead staff person for the program. Bartlett has extensive experience working with consumers who need treatment adherence support.

SUNY Upstate’s Designated AIDS Center sees the most medically and psychosocially complicated patients in the region.

“Approximately 60 percent of our patients have a mental health or substance use diagnosis or are mentally ill and chemically addicted,” said Judith Rees, N.P., the center’s program director. “Our staff has a long history of working with patients who have multiple challenges that can affect their ability to enter into and be successfully retained in care.”

Treatment adherence program services will be clinic- and community-based and will use a multidisciplinary team approach to provide care. To provide the most inclusive coverage, a staff member of the AIDS Community Resources, who will be based at the SUNY Upstate center, will provide treatment adherence services, including home visits to patients. It is anticipated that treatment adherence services will be provided to 150 patients of the center’s patient.

The program’s interventions will be tailored to address each patient’s needs and will include intensive assessment, education, referral, emotional support and follow up services. Each patient’s need will determine how long he or she will receive TAP services.

The Designated AIDS Center provides HIV specialty and primary care to 775 adults and children. Patients reside in a 17-county region that covers 15,778 square miles.

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