May 8, 2008

ASC is engaged in a groundbreaking partnership with Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center to provide HIV patients at high risk of dropping out of care with intensive case management services that improves connection to the medical services on which their lives depend.

This exciting collaboration is designed to reengage people whose HIV has gone untreated due to co-occurring problems such as substance abuse, mental illness, homelessness, and poverty. Under this initiative, a three-person ASC Case Management Team provides dedicated services to eligible HIV patients hospitalized at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, ushering them through the process of leaving the hospital and making the often daunting transition to out-patient medical care.

"Clinical providers and case managers are in close contact," says Dr. Susan Olender, Instructor of Clinical Medicine at Columbia's Division of Infectious Diseases. "By improving the communication, we find that coordination, oversight, and follow-up improve. This differs from the usual scenario, where services can be fragmented and communication isn't always as good as it could be."

One key benefit of this collaboration, according to Dr. Karen Brudney, Director of the Columbia University Infectious Diseases Clinic is that it helps people stay on track with their medications. "The difference between taking those meds and not taking them is clear: if you take your meds, you get better—and if you don't, you die."

Deborah's story illuminates the benefits of this unique program model. "After I was diagnosed with HIV, I was in the hospital for two months," explains Deborah W. "ASC visited me there and told me how they'd help me when I got discharged. Since then, they've helped me set up medical appointments, keep up with my meds, and explore avenues for finding a permanent place to live. ASC's case management team is concerned, knowledgeable, and follows up on everything that needs to be done."

"Community-based services can and do improve the health outcomes of people living with HIV/AIDS," says ASC Executive Director Sharen Duke. "Our partnership with Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center is powerful testament to the impact of medical care by HIV specialists supported by the work we do in the community, on the streets, and in clients' homes to help keep individuals in care."

For Deborah, the outcome is clear. "When it comes to the people I'm dealing with at Columbia Presbyterian and ASC, I know I have the best of the best."

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