Local and Community News
Virginia: HIV Patients, Caregivers Speak Out About Dispute
April 4, 2003
About two dozen patients and medical providers turned out in Norfolk, Va., Thursday to voice their alarm and confusion over a budget dispute that may deny about 350 patients access to a clinic specializing in HIV treatment. The dispute centers on how many patients the clinic at Eastern Virginia Medical School will treat, and how much money it will receive from a $5.1 million federal Ryan White Act grant for uninsured HIV/AIDS patients.Adapted from:
The federal agency that awards the grant has told Norfolk that its costs are too high, said Assistant City Manager Iris B. Jessie. The EVMS clinic costs more than other local providers, Jessie said, though it provides a higher level of care. Grant administrators want to expand the number of patients being treated, and so they cannot afford to pay for specialty care for patients who do not need it. City officials said they want to limit EVMS to treating South Hampton Roads patients in order to use the grant more efficiently.
Hampton Roads has the highest HIV infection rates in Virginia, and the number of cases is rising. City grant administrators want EVMS to focus on the South Hampton Roads region and let the Peninsula Institute for Community Health, a community clinic in Newport News, treat about 30 Peninsula-area patients.
This week, EVMS Director Dr. Edward C. Oldfield III notified patients that the clinic will stop serving them April 11, though it will continue to provide urgent care for at least another month. Norfolk officials are referring patients to community clinics and local health departments, but some health department officials said they are not prepared to treat so many HIV-positive people. City officials said that Peninsula patients can be referred to specialists if the community clinic cannot serve them. But some are having trouble getting those referrals, said Karen Price, of the Hampton-Newport News Community Services Board.
Norfolk officials said they are still willing to negotiate with EVMS and are waiting for a response to a letter they sent Wednesday.
04.04.03; Meredith Kruse