Florida: Broward County Cuts Off $1 Million in Funds for Troubled AIDS Care Center
February 23, 2006
On Tuesday, Broward County cut off the $1 million in funding it provided to Community Healthcare CenterOne, forcing nearly 2,000 clients to find a new HIV/AIDS treatment and support agency. Though it is the county's largest and oldest AIDS service organization, CenterOne, previously known as AIDS Project Florida, has been plagued by financial and managerial problems. Yet another shakeup in the center's leadership, and allegations of looming insolvency, prompted county commissioners to withdraw their support.
"This is a crisis; it is our problem and is now on our steps," said Commissioner Diana Wasserman-Rubin. "These are our brothers, sisters, and friends, and continuing to throw money at something that doesn't work is not acceptable."
The Broward County Human Services Department urged commissioners to terminate the funding CenterOne receives yearly though the Ryan White CARE Act after a year-long attempt to stabilize its operations. HSD administrators assured commissioners that the county's two hospital districts and other agencies can absorb CenterOne's clients.
Last spring, the county briefly suspended CenterOne's funding after a former financial officer admitted embezzling over $60,000 during his two-year tenure.
Marcel Martin, a former Health Department HIV specialist who served as CenterOne's director for almost a year, urged the county to pull the agency's funding. The agency had no budget, strategic plan or fund-raising efforts, said Martin, who was fired last month. "It breaks my heart, but it has to be done," he said.
CenterOne client Louis Curbelo said he understands the commissioners' decision but worries about what will happen next. "I blame the CenterOne board of directors for this happening. I just hope people with AIDS will have an easy transition, but I fear some will fall between the cracks," said Curbelo.
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
02.21.2006; Scott Wyman
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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.