Fall 2016

OPTIMIST

Our quarterly roundup of news, information, events, and more

In the Spotlight

Introducing APLA Health!

You may have already noticed … but we have a new name, a new logo, and a new website!

Just a couple of months ago, we unveiled all three, reflecting APLA Health’s expanded mission of achieving health care equity and promoting well-being for the LGBTQ and other underserved communities and people living with and affected by HIV.

The new APLA Health brand brings together AIDS Project Los Angeles and APLA Health & Wellness under one umbrella and reaffirms our commitment to providing comprehensive medical, dental, and behavioral health care services to low-income LGBT individuals regardless of their HIV status, as well as an array of support services for those who are living with HIV/AIDS.

Today, we can now provide 20 different services to more than 14,000 people annually from 15 locations throughout Los Angeles County.

Our new name reflects the changing nature of the health care landscape after the Affordable Care Act, particularly in California. In the last three years, the Health Resources Services Administration awarded APLA Health two grants to open federally qualified health centers in Baldwin Hills and Long Beach, and we expanded our scope from providing almost exclusively HIV-focused support services to also offering comprehensive health care to the entire community, with a focus on low-cost services to low-income LGBTQ individuals other underserved communities.

This does not mean, however, that we are reducing any of our HIV support services. Providing life-sustaining assistance to those living with HIV remains a core tenet of our mission. For example, we recently expanded our housing support services for people with HIV in South Los Angeles, for example, while our Vance North Necessities of Life Program remains the largest network of food pantries for people with HIV in the nation.

Since 1983, we have been committed to delivering care to the people who need us most. Today, we know that ending the epidemic will be driven primarily by health care and support services that ensure individuals are thriving. These are some of the many reasons why we have created APLA Health. We are looking toward the future while embracing our past and committing ourselves to expanding our system of care to ensure that those who need us most can live longer, healthier lives.

Thank you for being an integral part of why we are able to do this. Your support is truly invaluable. Welcome to APLA Health.

Learn more about APLA Health by exploring the website: aplahealth.staging.wpengine.com. You can also visit our Facebook page at facebook.com/APLAHealth or follow us on Twitter: @aplatweets.

If you have any questions or comments, reach out to us via hello@apla.org.

News & Noteworthy

A letter from:

Craig E. Thompson, CEO

With our new APLA Health name, logo, and website, the recent grand opening of the Long Beach Health Center, and a new home for the 32nd AIDS Walk Los Angeles, we are ending 2016 on a high note. First, it is my sincere pleasure to take a few moments to introduce you to APLA Health.

This is an exciting next step in our evolution that reaffirms our commitment to expanding access to quality, affirming health care and services to underserved communities in Los Angeles County.

Ever since AIDS Project Los Angeles first opened its doors in 1983, we have been committed to delivering care to the people who need us most. Thirty-three years ago, that meant ensuring people with AIDS died with dignity. Today it means much more. For we know now that the end of the epidemic will be driven primarily by health care and support services that ensure individuals are living well.

We are not reducing any of the services we provide to people living with HIV//AIDS; we are simply putting them under the APLA Health umbrella. Providing life-sustaining assistance to those living with HIV remains a core tenet of our mission.

In a new development, AIDS Walk, our largest fundraising event of the year, moved to downtown Los Angeles this year, starting and ending in Grand Park on October 23. The new venue is not only an exciting change of pace, but also a more central meeting point for many surrounding communities. We remain deeply grateful to West Hollywood for its many years serving as the Walk’s host city, and we’re also excited for this new chapter that will take us closer to ending the epidemic once and for all. And there’s still time to contribute funds to a registered walker or APLA Health and have it count toward this year’s grand total! Please visit la.aidswalk.net/donate and make a contribution before November 15. To view photos from the day, visit our Facebook album.

Due in part to the generous support the community shows at events such as AIDS Walk, APLA Health has been able to expand our role as a provider of free and low-cost medical, dental, and behavioral health care services. In August, we proudly celebrated the opening of the Long Beach Health Center. Our commitment to serve low-income individuals in Long Beach and neighboring South Los Angeles County neighborhoods was welcomed warmly by more than 100 people, including U.S. Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA). We now have the capacity to bring services to more than 5,000 patients at LBHC every year. If you’d like to see the new health center, learn more at aplahealth.staging.wpengine.com/tour.

Thank you so much for being an integral part of all that we’ve accomplished. Your continued support is not only inspiring, it is essential to every one of our patients and clients. We are thrilled that you stand with us as we work to ensure everyone who so critically needs our care receives it. We hope to see you at one of our holiday events before the close of the year: the 21st Toy Box Party, our World AIDS Day Food Drive, or the Jolly St. Knickers Run.

With great enthusiasm for the future and best wishes for the season,

Craig E. Thompson
Chief Executive Officer

World AIDS Day Food Drive

November 7-December 25

In Los Angeles, thousands of people living with HIV face food insecurity. Please join us by donating non-perishable items and helping those who need us most.

For more info, visit: aplahealth.staging.wpengine.com/fooddrive

Getting to Know:

Home Health

Our home health program offers in-home services to people living with HIV/AIDS who need assistance to maintain independent living.

APLA Health began offering these services in 1989 as a source of support for clients who needed help with day-to-day tasks but could not find help from traditional nursing homes due to their HIV status.

Today there are fewer people in L.A. County living with full-blown AIDS than there were three decades ago, but a growing number of longtime HIV survivors are entering advanced age, and there remain no long-term care facilities in Los Angeles County that specialize in HIV care.

We recently spoke with Melinda Serrano, APLA Health’s clinical nurse manager to learn more about what the home health team is doing to ensure longtime survivors get the care they need.

Tell us a bit about the home health program.

The home health program is a home-based case management program. Our staff consists of several teams of one registered nurse and one social worker, who visit HIV-positive clients in their homes. At least once every 90 days, our teams pay every client a visit and do a full assessment of their needs. Do they have access to services like behavioral health, the food pantry, transportation, housekeeping, et cetera? How well have they been able to adhere to their medical regimen? Do they need any specialty referrals or medication review?

What are your day-to-day responsibilities?

I manage a full-time program; assign cases to staff; review referrals; monitor services via direct reports and chart reviews; audit internal charts; monitor and modify the budget; and provide resources for the staff if patients have issues or concerns. The program also requires me to submit reports, many of which Brian Beneat, our office manager, handles. I would be lost without him!

As long-term survivors get older, how does it affect the program?

The need is growing. Many of our clients have multiple chronic diseases that impact their activities of daily living, like arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, and more. This is compounded with the complications of living with HIV and the long-term effects of taking HIV medications. These factors have all contributed to an increased need for our services.

What do you think everyone should know about the program?

The home health program helps clients stay healthier physically, psychologically, and socially. With our services, individuals can remain independent at home either with or without family support. They can maintain social lives and feel relevant in the world around them.

What is your favorite aspect of working in home health?

I love the fact that we can make a difference is someone’s life and their health! That we can reassure our clients that they are not alone. I love seeing someone smile when we tell them we can help.

For more information, visit: aplahealth.staging.wpengine.com/services/home-health-care

Partner Profile

The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation

For nearly 40 years, The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation has been awarding grants to organizations that focus on improving the diverse communities that make up Los Angeles County. It is named for a civil engineer who built one of the world’s largest engineering and construction companies.

After Parsons passed away, he left the Foundation 600,000 shares of his company stock and $4 million in cash. Since then, the Foundation has grown to become a multidisciplinary grantmaking entity, focusing on human services, health, education, and civic and cultural projects.

The Parsons Foundation has supported APLA Health’s work for 25 years, assisting us in launching and growing a number of services aimed at providing better outcomes for underserved communities. Most recently, the Foundation awarded APLA Health a grant to help complete and open the Long Beach Health Center’s dental clinic. “One of the most important things we will provide is unrestricted funds,” Foundation President and CEO Wendy Garen (pictured) says. “This is core operating money that can help launch new initiatives and drive capacity change.”

Garen has played an integral role in the life of the Foundation for more than 20 years, and she assumed the title of president and CEO in 2008. She notes that the Foundation values working collaboratively with community partners who are committed to making a substantive positive impact. “We look at organizations with healthy balance sheets and well-articulated goals and objectives. It’s not charity; it’s an investment. The return we expect is lives improved.

“Access to good health care is challenging for the poor, and the face of HIV has changed, so some of the stigma and isolation is not as prevalent as it once was, perhaps,” she continues. “But we also know healthy lives still need support, and everything APLA does mitigates risk and helps people live long, high-quality lives.”

To learn more about The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation, please visit rmpf.org.

Employee Spotlight

Alba Escobar: She's Got You Covered

Alba Escobar knows what you need. After all, that’s her job. As an enrollment specialist who is often the first person to interact with new APLA Health patients, she understands that what many people need is health insurance.

Either directly or through referral, enrollment specialists like Alba assist APLA Health clients signing up for affordable health insurance. “Not only do we ensure patients get linked to care, either through APLA Health or through another medical center,” she says, “but we also assist people through all the troubleshooting, technical glitches, and the bureaucracy that can come with getting enrolled.”

Many young and even middle-aged people have traditionally not seen health insurance as a priority, assuming that it is unaffordable or unnecessary because they feel fine. The Affordable Care Act has brought about many changes and millions are now able to see a doctor, therapist, or dentist for the first time. “Clients who wouldn’t even have dreamed of enjoying medical benefits can now get free or low-cost health insurance,” Alba notes. “More people have access to preventative care, which means fewer visits to emergency rooms, keeping long-term medical conditions under control, and ultimately more positive outcomes.”

Although more people are eligible for care, the enrollment process can still be complicated and, for some, frustrating. That is exactly where Alba comes in—explaining what terms mean, which plans might be a best fit, and reassuring patients that the process is worth the effort.

And despite the challenges she encounters with keeping up with a complex system of insurers and medical plans, Alba finds comfort in knowing she directly makes a difference in patients’ lives. “When those with chronic illnesses are able to get into care, when those living with HIV tell me they now feel better and have undetectable viral loads, or when those who say their pain is now tolerable when compared to before they had insurance—that in itself is fulfilling,” Alba says. “You have a sense of purpose because you were part of the process to their well-being.”

Open enrollment began November 1. If you or someone you know is looking for health insurance coverage, please contact us via the website or call 213.201.1600.

Picture It

Browse some of the fantastic photos from our recent community events and fundraisers, and be sure to join us at another one soon!

32nd AIDS Walk Los Angeles

AIDS Walk moved to Downtown Los Angeles this year, and thousands of committed, passionate walkers raised more than $2 million to fund critically needed services for those living with and at risk for HIV/AIDS.

facebook.com/aplahealth

Leadership Circle Garden Party

APLA Health’s Leadership Circle Garden Party took place in Altadena in October. See who was there, and visit aplahealth.staging.wpengine.com/leadershipcircle for more information.

facebook.com/aplahealth
Save the Dates

HIV & Older Adults (HIVE)

Come check out the events we have planned for men 50+ who are living with HIV.

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