Leadership. Commitment. Impact.
In honor of World AIDS Day 2016, we would like to highlight the Ryan White Part C Early Intervention Services (EIS) program at ECCHC. This year’s federal World AIDS Day theme is “Leadership. Commitment. Impact.” These three words clearly define our Ryan White team.
The CDC estimates that roughly 1.2 million people in the US are living with HIV- and nearly one in eight are not aware they are infected. Prevention efforts have led to encouraging declines in the new diagnoses among some populations- including African American women, people who inject drugs and heterosexuals- and stabilization in new diagnoses among gay and bisexual men, including black men. However, as many as 50,000 people still become newly infected each year. In addition to recognized risk behaviors, a range of social and economic factors places some Americans at increased risk for HIV infection (From CDC Fact Sheet, “Today’s HIV/AIDS Epidemic,” October 2016).
Since the Cooperative’s award of the Ryan White Part C grant in April 2012, the Ryan White EIS team has worked towards the achievement of two key goals: the improvement of client retention in medical care and support services; and improvement of client viral load suppression. In pursuit of these goals, the Cooperative has leveraged its expansive network of community-based health centers, and its culturally sensitive primary care teams to improve health outcomes for all clients and significantly reduce HIV-related health disparities in Richland, Fairfield, Sumter, and Newberry counties. According to the CDC, although there has been a gradual improvement in the number of South Carolinians who received HIV care, there are still an estimated 3,200 people in the state living with undiagnosed HIV infection (From CDC, “Revelence of Diagnosed and Undiagnosed HIV infection- United States, 2008-2012).
ECCHC’s Ryan White Part C EIS Program focuses on HIV/AIDS early intervention services for men and women. In 2015, the program served 439 patients. Patients receive comprehensive, compassionate, and confidential health care services to help treat and manage HIV/AIDS.
Patients work with their health care team to learn how to set and achieve health care goals. They receive comprehensive HIV/AIDS health care, including:
- HIV treatment
- Medication assistance
- Education about HIV management
- Case management
- HIV testing for you or your partner
- Primary health care services
- Dental care services
- Podiatry services
- Behavioral health care services
- Education about nutrition and wellness
- Referrals to specialty care
Patients are also confidentially connected to various social and community organizations that can help, such as support groups and substance abuse treatment. Anyone who is HIV positive or thinks they may be and would like to be tested is eligible for the program. Services are provided on a sliding fee scale. We accept patients who are both uninsured and insured. We offer free and confidential testing. Patients can call (803) 799-8407 – ext. 1932 for an appointment within 24 hours. Open-access appointments are available for established patients.
Ryan White Part C EIS Team
The success of the program would not be possible without dedicated and caring staff.
“Being a Ryan White Case Manager is a rewarding position because I get to help someone that is in ‘need of services.’ Sometimes patients come into the office just to vent about their personal problems, some come in for their medications, some come in for bus passes, some come in for money, some come in for food, some come in for housing referrals, some come in for their medical appointments, and some just come to say hello. Being a part of the Ryan White team, we are considered a family including the doctors and the nursing staffs. Patient always state that they enjoy coming here because they feel like they are a part of our family and we treat them with respect.” – Nadya Brown, Medical Case Manager
“Working in the field of HIV is for me is more than a job; it’s a passion/ministry. Having close friends and a family member succumb to this disease hits close to home. Working in this field there is never a dull moment. I believe there is a day when HIV will no longer exist and I want to be a part of the efforts to making this happen. “ – Kabra’ Benford, Medical Case Manager
“The patients we serve keep me going. They move me. I love my job, I love the patients we serve because being able to do one thing for them is fulfilling. Assistance with medication, referrals, transportation, etc. Whatever I can do, I’m willing. To see a patient smile and say ‘thank you’ is enough.” – Olympia Witherspoon, Assistant Program Coordinator
The ECCHC Ryan White program also has two incredibly passionate providers.
Adelero Adebajo, MD is a board certified Internal Medicine Physician, a fellow of the American College of Physicians and a certified HIV specialist with the American Academy of HIV Medicine. She is a member of the Ryan White Medical Provider Coalition and the International Association of Providers of AIDS Care. She has been employed at Eau Claire Cooperative Health Center since 2012, where she provides primary care, hepatitis C care as well as HIV care to patients through the Ryan White Program. Dr. Adebajo recently represented ECCHC at the International Association of Providers of AIDS Care (IAPAC) conference “Controlling the HIV Epidemic with Antiretrovirals” in Geneva, Switzerland.
Ada D. Stewart, MD, FAAFP, has been a practicing family physician with the Eau Claire Cooperative Health Centers since 2012, and currently serves as lead provider and HIV Specialist. Dr. Stewart is also a member of the board of directors of the American Academy of Family Physicians.
Stewart is also a member of the American Academy of HIV Medicine, the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Care Medicine, the National Medical Association and the American Women’s Medical Association.
Born and reared in an underserved urban area of Cleveland, Ohio, Stewart has committed her career to ensuring uninsured and low-income families have access to high quality health care. She began her career as a National Health Services Corps scholar, caring for underserved patients in rural South Carolina. She continues to work with underserved communities in both rural and urban settings. From 2003 to 2012, Stewart served as chief medical officer and HIV specialist at the Richland Community Health Care Association, Eastover and Columbia, S.C.
She is board certified by the American Board of Family Medicine and has the AAFP Degree of Fellow, an earned degree awarded to family physicians for distinguished service and continuing medical education. Stewart has also earned additional certification in HIV care from the American Academy of HIV Medicine and is certified as a Hospice Medical Director by the Hospice Medical Director Certification Board.
ECCHC is proud to have a partnership with USC School of Medicine’s AIDS Education and Training Center (AETC) that strengthens the capacity of health care professionals to care for people living with HIV/AIDS through training and technical assistance. ECCHC will explore options to expand the Ryan White program to serve children and adolescence.