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Local and Community News

Florida Clinic in Red Faces Closure

May 23, 2002

Broward County's Waniski Foundation, established 14 years ago as an underground medicine-buying club for AIDS patients, owes more than $100,000 and is struggling to collect its government grants and medical payments because of a series of management problems. Unless the money is freed up within a few weeks, founder Marie Waniski said she will have to close her nonprofit clinic and counseling office in Fort Lauderdale, which sees about 1,000 patients each year.

Broward County is withholding payments from the group's $500,000 federal Ryan White grants until Waniski submits a 2001 audit, which is a month late. Waniski expects the report to be done by June 30 but fears her agency won't last that long: The county has refused to pay the agency a month's draw -- $40,000 -- to tide it over.

County officials and other AIDS activists said that Waniski, despite her dedication to the cause, brought on her own problems through sloppy management, ignoring advice and too-fast growth. County inspectors found a list of missing documents and $12,000 in overcharges. "We want the agency to survive but we can't pay until we get the audit," said Kitty Sommerville, county director of substance abuse and health care services.

The Waniski clinic has a budget of $800,000 to offer a primary care physician, case management, massage therapy, acupuncture, advice on maintaining drug regimens and counseling for infected parolees. The agency has been losing money for years, its records show. Waniski said she turns no one away, and about one-third of her patients pay nothing. At the end of 2000, the clinic was $82,000 in debt. She was sued by a lab and others and had to work out payment plans. Waniski thought she would recover by landing new Ryan White grants from the county, a state grant and a bank loan.

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The loan fell through. Waniski has been unable to collect an estimated $120,000 from Medicare and Medicaid because the paperwork was not done correctly. She thought she could survive with the county grant money, because her audits had been late every year without consequence. But this year, Sommerville said the county is demanding more accountability from AIDS groups.


Back to other CDC news for May 23, 2002

Previous Updates

Adapted from:
Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
05.18.02; Bob LaMendola


  
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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
 
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