Bye, 2020!

A year-end wrap up the year that was.

By The Numbers

In 2020, The Project of PHC served over 2,000 individuals across the HIV spectrum. From providing free HIV and STI screenings, to dianosis, treatment, and likage to care, all the way to supportive services assistance and medical care management. We continue to serve central Iowa and its surrounding communities. 

Individuals Tested

Clients who achieved Viral Suppression

New Clients Enrolled in the Program

Newly Diagnosed Clients

Total clients enrolled

Clients who achieved Viral Suppression

New Clients Enrolled in the Program

Newly Diagnosed Clients

2020 Highlights

Things we accomplished in 2020

Same-Day PrEP

Early in 2020, the Prevention Team worked hard to launch “Same-Day PrEP” for our patients. PrEP is a vital medication in the national strategy to reduce new HIV transmissions to high-risk individuals. Being able to provide a PrEP prescription the same day that an individual comes in for preventative testing gives our patients peace of mind and another way to protect themselves from HIV transmission.

At-Home HIV Test

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, our Prevention Team launched an at-home HIV testing program through telehealth. By mailing at-home testing kits to clients and providing support via Zoom the team was able to continue to provide access to services for individuals who weren’t able or weren’t comfortable coming into the clinic. (Read More)

Housing Support

In October, we promoted a current case manager, Sarah into the Housing CM position. Sarah will keep a smaller caseload, so she can focus more time and energy on developing relationships with landlords and other community partners in the housing world. She will work with our chronically homeless clients in assisting them with obtaining and maintaining affordable housing. Sarah will be able to assist clients in filling out housing applications, driving to apartment showings, etc. (Meet our new Case Managers)

Selected for National HPV Study

This year the Prevention Team partnered with IDPH to be a part of a national HPV surveillance program. There are 3 cities in the nation that are a part of this surveillance program: Des Moines, New York and Seattle. IDPH partnered with The Project of Primary Health Care because of how we create a welcoming atmosphere for our patients and also do a great job of reaching our grant goals. The surveillance program data is being used to determine the prevalence of HPV in men who have receptive anal sex. This data could lead to funding for HPV treatment and vaccinations in the future.

Presented to a National Audience

In October, the Prevention Team presented at the United States Conference on HIV/AIDS about “A New Normal: HIV, HCV and STI Screening during COVID-19.” This conference is one of the largest in the nation that deals with new biomedical advances in HIV/AIDS. We were able to engage with numerous programs around the nation that also want to make changes with their HIV program and provide At-Home HIV Testing.

World AIDS Day 2020

As we wrap up this unprecedented year that has had it’s ups and downs The Project is grateful for the support of our community. On December 1, 2020, The Project placed a few hundred flags outside of our office in celebration of World AIDS Day. Many people walking by asked what the flags were for, and they were a great conversation started about HIV/AIDS and the stigma that exists around being HIV positive.

Going Above and Beyond to Support a Client with COVID-19

Story by Kelly Marble

 

It’s April 2020. The United States is in the first six-weeks of the COVID-19 shutdown. The phone rings in the clinic. Lisa, a Nurse Care Manager at The Project, picks up. On the other end of the line is one of our patients Mike.

Mike* is panicking. He is HIV+ and he was diagnosed with COVID-19 after an outbreak occurred at the factory he works at.

“What do I do? Will my family get sick?” said Mike.

Lisa worked fast to pull together a COVID-19 care package to send to him. In it, she placed masks for him and his family members, an infrared thermometer so all family members could monitor their temperatures safely, disinfection supplies for cleaning and a grocery card to use for the safe delivery of food while quarantining. 

Over the next two weeks, COVID-19 hit Mike hard, and he became quite ill. 

Every other day, like clockwork, Lisa called him to ask about his symptoms and keep a close eye on his prognosis, should he need to go to a hospital. As his condition got worse, she sent him a pulse oximeter to be able to monitor his oxygen levels at home.

After three, long weeks he was free and clear of COVID-19 symptoms. Lisa assisted him with obtaining medical clearance for a return to work. Mike expressed immense gratitude for all the education and support he received from Lisa and the Ryan White staff throughout the entire time he was ill.

*Client names are changed to protect patient identity*

Adapting Early to the Challenges of COVID-19

Story by Kelly Marble

 

Clinical staff remained at work and reached out to our most at-risk patients with education on how to best protect themselves from Covid-19. We implemented Telehealth services and many patients took advantage of this new technology to follow up with their providers. Most patients gave telehealth a thumbs up due to the convenience and safety considerations. Lab visits were delayed or skipped them altogether.

In April, our clinical program was awarded a Covid-19 grant that allowed us to purchase PPE and cleaning supplies for patients and medical equipment. For example, we purchased blood pressure cuffs, for home use to improve the telehealth experience. Patients reported job furloughs so we used some money to provide food gift cards. Covid care packages containing these supplies were mailed out to those in need, especially when supplies were hard to come by.

When COVID-19 hit a majority of the case management team began working from home in March. They have continued to see clients virtually over Zoom, on the phone, and in some cases in person, if needed. The best way to reach a case manager right now is by contacting their work email or cell phone.

The Prevention Team reduced the number of available testing appointments to allow time to clean and sanitize the testing rooms. There is still a high need for free and confidential testing services and HIV and STI rates are on the rise locally and nationally in the midst of the pandemic.

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