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Local and Community News

Worcester, Mass. Council Disputes AIDS Decision; Department of Public Health Pulled Plug on Funding

June 13, 2003

The Worcester City Council wants to meet with Massachusetts Commissioner of Public Health Christine C. Ferguson to discuss her agency's decision to defund the city's HIV/AIDS counseling and testing program. Mayor Timothy P. Murray charged state health officials with "incompetence" and said they have failed to substantiate any of the accusations they made against the city's Department of Public Health when they denied its application for $124,000 in state money for the program.

State DPH officials said the city's "poor performance" on its application and its "extensively documented program deficiencies" during the past five years made it impossible to give it money for next fiscal year. Local officials have challenged those statements, saying they have never seen the documentation mentioned and that the state has not provided it, despite repeated requests.

Worcester DPH Director Francis X. Birch described his meeting of more than 2.5 hours with state public health officials last week as "quite contentious" at times. He said the officials were able to provide only limited documentation related to Worcester's HIV/AIDS program. In its fiscal 2001 performance review, the state DPH said the city "substantially fulfilled contractual performance goals and conditions." The 2002 review said the city fulfilled most, but not all, contractual goals and conditions. Birch said state public health officials apparently made only one visit to the Worcester site in five years, and that there was no written documentation or follow-up to it. Birch said the officials ended the meeting by expressing regret for placing him in an embarrassing position by their statements.

City Manager Thomas R. Hoover said, "We need to find a way to get that money so we can resume that [HIV/AIDS] program. They [state DPH] have expressed a willingness to work with us to see if there is a solution to this funding problem."

Back to other CDC news for June 13, 2003

Previous Updates

Adapted from:
Worcester Telegram & Gazette
06.11.03; Nick Kotsopoulos

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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.
See Also
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