New Facility Includes Full-Service Pharmacy and Mental Health Services
SAN ANTONIO – The San Antonio AIDS Foundation (SAAF) officially dedicated its new Care Clinic at 11 a.m. on Friday, November 17, and hosted a public open house to celebrate the first outpatient HIV healthcare facility on the city’s East Side.
Located at SAAF’s headquarters at 818 E. Grayson Street, the 6,500-square-foot facility has been in “soft opening” mode for several months. It offers a wide range of services to HIV-positive patients, including standard clinical services for people managing HIV/AIDS, a full-service pharmacy and mental health services.
Currently, the clinic is open Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., for patients meeting eligibility requirements of the federally funded Ryan White HIV/AIDS program – and for those with insurance, including Medicare and Medicaid. Demand for clinic services is on the rise, however, so clinic hours will soon expand to meet the need.
“The Care Clinic is a dream come true for us,” SAAF CEO Cynthia Nelson said. “It is a vital part of our evolution as an HIV/AIDS service organization as we grow and change to meet the needs and realities of HIV treatment in the 21st century. With fewer and fewer people dying of AIDS and more and more living long, productive lives while they manage a chronic disease, this clinic will enable SAAF to remain a turn-key organization: from testing and diagnosis to actual medical care, case management, healthcare referrals, mental health counseling and so much more.”
Nelson said the addition of the clinic and pharmacy solidifies SAAF’s function as a “one-stop shop,” offering everything from testing, to case management, to medical treatment and behavioral counseling, and on-site hot meal service. Housing opportunities are also available in SAAF’s off-site transitional home, as is a rental assistance program.
SAAF Board Chair Fermin Parra said these additions to SAAF’s outreach reflect the new reality of HIV/AIDS care. “We have worked hard to learn and promote the latest advancements in testing and treatment, helping to meet the great community need for a continuum of care for individuals with HIV/AIDS. This outpatient clinic is an example of how we are adapting to the changing realities of managing this disease – and reaching the people who need our help most.”
CLINIC MEETS GROWING LOCAL NEED FOR HIV CARE
The clinic opens at a time when the number of San Antonians living with HIV is startlingly high.
According to the City of San Antonio Metropolitan Health District, approximately 5,400 people were living with HIV in Bexar County at the end of 2014. (The latest figure available.) Sixty percent of those people were Hispanic and 85 percent were men. Of all people living with the virus in Bexar County, 52 percent are aged 45 or older and 47 percent are ages 20 to 44.
The Care Clinic offers such services as office visits focused on HIV, laboratory draws for viral load and CD4 counts, and other necessary tests used in the treatment and management of HIV. Behavioral health counseling is available by appointment.
Through a special arrangement with UT Health San Antonio™, the Care Clinic at SAAF is headed by Dr. Waridibo (Wari) Allison, who serves both as SAAF’s medical director and as an attending physician for the inpatient infectious disease service at University Hospital, San Antonio.
Dr. Allison is also an assistant professor of infectious disease at UT Health San Antonio™ and holds an adjunct appointment as assistant professor of population health at New York University (NYU). Her current research focuses on prevention, screening and linkage to care in relation to HIV and viral hepatitis (particularly hepatitis C).
She attended Imperial College School of Medicine, London and completed her internal medicine residency at New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center and an infectious disease fellowship at NYU. She earned a PhD in Public Health from the Kirby Institute, University of New South Wales, Australia.
PHARMACY SPECIALIZES IN HIV MEDICATIONS
Housed within the clinic is a 1,500-square-foot, full-service pharmacy with an additional specialty in HIV medications. Operating under the name of Astoria Pharmacy, it is a division of Southside Pharmacy – part of a Houston-based healthcare company.
Pharmacy services include consultations on taking medication and medication adherence, free and confidential delivery and refill reminders.
Staff can also help clients navigate the complicated world of federal and state prescription drug programs. One of the most important is the federally administered 340B drug discount program that requires pharmaceutical manufacturers to provide outpatient medications to eligible healthcare organizations at significantly reduced prices. In addition, SAAF’s pharmacy and client services department can assist clients with copays and obtaining medications through the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP), a state-administered program offering FDA-approved medications to low-income people living with HIV who have limited or no health coverage from private insurance, Medicaid or Medicare.
For more information on the Care Clinic and Astoria Pharmacy, visit www.SanAntonioAIDS.org
Ken Slavin, Vice President of Communications
O: 210-225-4715, ext. 141
ABOUT UT Health San Antonio
With missions of teaching, research and healing, UT Health San Antonio™ is one of the country’s leading health sciences universities. Its schools of medicine, nursing, dentistry, health professions and graduate biomedical sciences have produced more than 33,000 alumni who are advancing their fields throughout the world. With seven campuses in San Antonio and Laredo, UT Health San Antonio has a FY 2018 revenue operating budget of $838.4 million and is the primary driver of its community’s $37 billion biomedical and health care industry. For more information on the many ways “We make lives better®,” visit www.uthscsa.edu.
ABOUT THE SAN ANTONIO AIDS FOUNDATION
Founded in 1986, the San Antonio AIDS Foundation commemorated 30 years of service in 2016. It is the oldest and largest HIV/AIDS service organization in Bexar County. Its mission is to prevent the spread of HIV and provide comprehensive services to individuals affected by HIV/AIDS. SAAF’s headquarters and clinical services are located at 818 E. Grayson St. and the testing and education offices are at 333 S. Hackberry St.
For more information: call Ken Slavin, vice president of communications, at 225-4715, ext. 141.