The Bay Area Reporter online


For Hal Christiansen, who has lived with HIV for three years
decades, the AIDS case management services you receive from Westside Community
Services have been invaluable in helping you recover from a stroke
suffered in April 2002 and severe depression after the death of his

First he turned to the nonprofit organization for help 10 years ago and
receives home visits from a social worker and a nurse in his department
near the Russian Hill neighborhood of San Francisco. Once, your social worker
brought Christiansen to the UCSF Alliance Health Project and sat in the doorway
interview with him

"I could not talk, I was so overwhelmed," he recalled.
Christiansen, 64, added that his social worker was able to respond to any
questions on his behalf "and they gave me the help I needed.
It stood out for me. "

Over the years, Westside employees who have worked with
Christiansen, a gay man who had been secretary of litigation, has come out of
in his own way, he said, to make sure he receives social support and medical attention
He needs. His last nurse, for example, intervened to make sure he could see a
dentist after Christiansen had trouble getting an appointment.

"I have a private doctor who specializes in HIV, but
He really trusts Westside Community Services, "said Christiansen." Do not
to know in what other part of the community would go to obtain a good service. "

So, when the agency announced earlier this year that it would
You have to finish your case management, as well as the home care programs for people
living with HIV or AIDS due to lack of funds, Christiansen urged the
The leaders of the non-profit organizations did everything possible to continue the programs.

"I was terrified because I really depend on Westside
for medical services, "Christiansen said.

The agency, which has just celebrated its 50th anniversary, has
Hundreds of San Francisco residents with HIV since the launch of their AIDS case
Administration Program in 1988. It is the only program funded by Medi-Cal Waiver in
the city.

But Westside has had problems maintaining critical services
for their HIV clients, since they had not received a rate increase in the past
decade. Most of the agency's AIDS case management clients comply with state Medi-Cal
eligibility requirements and, therefore, are not eligible for services funded by the
Federal Law Ryan White Treatment Modernization within San Francisco
Department of Public Health.

"Financing is a really difficult piece.
when it was abundant, but there are very few funds for
prevention, "said Westside Executive Director Mary Ann Jones, Ph.D., to the Bay Area
Reporter in a recent interview. "HIV and AIDS services are receiving a lot
less attention than he has received. "

The board of directors of the non-profit organization voted to end the administration of cases
and home health care programs on September 1. But after the State Department of
Health care services announced a significant increase in the Medi-Cal rate
Exemption Program for the fiscal year that began on July 1, Westside rescinded its
decision to close the programs. According to the agency, their rates went up from
$ 400 to $ 600 per month per customer and additional income will finance the
programs and eliminate the structured deficit led by Westside in the past

"I do not anticipate that we will have that problem
again, "said Jones, 56, who is heterobadual and started at the agency in 2004.
as its clinical director. "It's unfortunate that the organizations put themselves in a
position where they could not provide services. "

The agency, with a total budget of $ 11 million and
administrative offices located in an old Victorian building on Oak Street, near
Divisadero, was one of the first in the city to provide help to people living with HIV
or AIDS a nurse and a social worker who visits them at home.

"Provides better continuity of care," said Craig
Hutchinson, 53, a gay man who has been director of HIV services at Westside
since January 2016. "We see clients more often than their primary care
doctor. We advocate for your social work needs and health care needs as
good. "

Currently working with 175 clients with HIV or AIDS.
those with less acute needs, Westside had planned to pbad them to the
Shanti Project or the Asian and Pacific Islander Wellness Center had it
closed its programs. As for the 75 percent with more acute needs, I did not have
He found another agency capable of dealing with those customers, said Hutchinson.

The only option would have been for another county to
provide services to those customers, Jones said. Now, because of the
Increased reimbursement, Westside is planning to increase its ability to see
HIV and AIDS clients.

Currently the agency is hiring two more social workers so that
You can see 80 more patients next year. Each social worker sees up to 40 patients.
It has a waiting list of 10 people waiting to be deleted once the new
the employees are in their place.

It already employs five nurses and four social workers to
AIDS programs, as well as three home care workers and two certified nurses
badistants. Provides home care, from light cleaning and food purchases to
accompany clients to see their doctor or visit a park to get some fresh air,
those patients who are disabled or socially isolated.

"The services are top notch," said Christiansen,
"And the staff is top notch."

To receive Westside HIV services, clients must
live in San Francisco and meet the eligibility criteria for the Medi-Cal Exemption

For more information about the agency, or to consult about
receiving your services, visit their website at

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