Local and Community News
Florida County to Resume AIDS Care at Clinic
March 21, 2002
The Lake County, Fla., Health Department's AIDS program is back after being scrapped two years ago when officials cited budget troubles. Lake was the only county in Florida to halt the program. "When the Lake County Health Department closed their doors, they left us all in the street," said Corbin Discher, 42, a Eustis resident. Now, thanks to a $40,000 grant and a partnership with an Orlando hospital, the department has begun offering HIV/AIDS care again, this time at its Umatilla clinic, with plans to extend the program this summer to the Tavares and Clermont locations.Adapted from:
"There's been a great need for HIV service in Lake County for a long time," said Kevin Lenhart, county spokesperson. "It's been an overlooked population." As of January, Lake County had 104 reported HIV cases and 294 AIDS cases. Grant money from the Ryan White Foundation will pay for an infectious disease specialist, nutritionist, mental health counselor and peer counselor. Additional funds are coming from Orlando Regional Medical Center (ORMC), where Ryan White money goes to support the hospital's Hug-ME program for people with HIV/AIDS. "Rather than compete with them [ORMC], we decided to partner with them to provide better services in Lake County," Lenhart said.
Discher said most of Lake's AIDS patients who had been using the department's services ended up driving to the Marion County Health Department or clinics in Orlando, Tampa or Gainesville for care. Discher said the loss of continuity of health care jeopardized his own health until he found a private doctor who treats AIDS and accepts Medicare and Medicaid. He doesn't plan to return to the Health Department for care. "When the door has been closed in your face once, you are hesitant." The grant is only for one year, but health department officials expect it to be renewed.
03.19.02; Stephanie Erickson