HIV CARE PROGRAM
The Care program provides integrated services for HIV patients on Chicago’s South Side.
The HIV Care program is a recognized leader in integrated primary and multi-specialty care for people living with HIV disease. This twice-weekly clinic provides a seamless system of care to approximately 300 patients in all stages of HIV disease both with and without insurance, from the neighborhood and the metropolitan area. We have intentionally placed the clinic under the auspices of Mercy Hospital’s Family Health Center in order to be sensitive to the privacy concerns of our patients.
Clinic services include:
- Comprehensive primary and specialty medical care
- Prevention and risk reduction
- Gynecological exams and guidance
- Integrated substance abuse and mental health support
- Nutritional counseling
- Case management
- Medication adherence counseling and pharmaceutical consulting
- Health education
Care is provided regardless of insurance status or ability to pay. Established by concerned medical residents at Michael Reese Hospital in 1989, HIV Care actively continues the mission of the former medical center in serving the underserved alongside all patients at the same high level of care and also in initiating new approaches to treatment that further enhance effectiveness. The staff is extensively trained in cultural competency in LGBT and other population-specific issues. Appointments with specialists and care-takers circulate around the patient, so the patient does not have to remember and transport themselves to multiple appointments. About one-third of patients are uninsured and without income for care. They are treated with exactly the same compassion and attention as the rest.
The Care Program led the way when it was first founded. It was the only accessible and culturally appropriate site for treatment on the South Side. It was also free and – as was the spirit of Michael Reese Hospital – nonjudgemental at a time when HIV infection was poorly understood and stigmatized.
Today, the clinic continues to lead under Dr Art Moswin, Medical Director, and Norma Rolfsen, Project Director and Family Nurse Practitioner. For more than two decades, Ms Rolfsen has devoted her nursing practice to people living with HIV. She helped found and is an active board member of Nurses for Africa. In 2013, she received the American Red Cross Nurse Award. With the belief “Love first, ask later,” Ms Rolfsen is a driving force behind the development of compassionate, non-judgmental care – for HIV and all patients.
Increasingly, Care Program patients are now aging with the disease, presenting a new stream of conditions. Many practices developed at the clinic for aging patients have become “best practices” adopted by similar centers. The clinic is a training site for providers to learn HIV care and has helped other clinics set up similar programs.