Quarterly Report - Q3/2019
Updated: Jul 14
Highland Rivers: a Highly Successful Team
Testing at Highland Rivers was this up this quarter - by 132% over the same period last year. In part, says Infection Control Nurse and HIV lead Kim Godfrey, that’s because she changed her approach to talking with the team of EIS nurses stationed throughout Highland Rivers’ 12-county service area.
Previously, Kim routinely sent out long, detailed emails and little or no response. “My emails weremeant to be encouraging, but they were 5 paragraphs - not what you’d call fun,” says Kim. “So I started reading about how to communicate and it turns out people learn and understand quicker with emojis and pictures and funny memes. So that’s what I started doing and now I’m getting much more participation.”
Kim also credits the boost in HIV testing to Diane Sutphin, a highly motivated worker in the crisis unit. “Diane challenges herself,” says Kim. “Her goal is to always do one more test than she did the day before.” She also follows a formula that Kim developed to engage clients in HIV testing. “One of the best times to test is after a prevention group,” says Kim. “When I walk in, I’m carrying my paperwork in one hand and a big bag of candy in the other. Somebody will say, ‘Can I have a piece?’ and I let them know that I give out candy when I test. Diane also likes to use handouts from the HIV page of this website like HIV 101 or PrEP 101. She goes over the material and then starts a conversation. We find that testing after a prevention group is nearly always 100%.”
Farewell to Kim Godfrey
Recently, Kim Godfrey received an offer that she could
not refuse. In December, after three and a half years as HIV lead at Highland Rivers, she left the agency for a
While we're happy for Kim, and grateful for the legacy
of committed, creative leadership that she leaves behind, we are very sorry to see her go.
On the eve of her departure, Kim shared what mattered most to her about her role in the EIS program. “I love hearing people's stories. Sometimes the they’re terrible, but they help me figure out what I can do today, right now, to help. A lot of times clients are worried. They may be worried that they’re HIV positive. Or if they’ve used IV drugs they’re worried that they have hep C. If their concern is HIV, with a one-minute test we can give them relief from their fears immediately. And if an individual tests HIV-positive, we are literally in a position to save their lives. If they’re worried about hep C, we can give them their status and, if they need it, get them into treatment that actually leads to a cure. When I’m struggling, if someone can help me with just one thing, it relieves my mind and I can go on to the next thing. That’s what the EIS program does for people.”
HIV and HCV Testing Play Significant Role in Recovery at McIntosh Trail
“I’ve seen clients in tears because we’ve given them hope where it did not exist before they sat down,” says McIntosh lead nurse Nikki Smith, referring to helping an HCV-positive client receive treatment.
“That is the true fruit of our labor. It’s not low-hanging; you have to work at it – you have to climb the tree to pick it – but my gosh, the reward. I’m not talking about thank you’s; I’m talking about the impact on clients,” says Nikki. And that impact is nowhere more evident than the moment when a client realizes that they have a future. “The rest of their life is tangible to them now and they have a reason to stay sober. That’s what’s fabulous about EIS.”
Both HIV and HCV testing are up at McIntosh Trail. Since April 2019, when she took on the role of EIS coordinator, Nikki has rebuilt an EIS team that now provides testing in every outpatient counseling center, every residential long-term substance use program, and every crisis unit. “That’s where the rubber meets the road,” says Nikki, "where nurses are serving clients." And she describes medical director Dr. Lenore Allen as "an agency champion who is absolutely committed to the excellence of this program.”
Debra Wallace, Communicable Disease Specialist, New Beginnings in Thomasville
After a hiatus, Debra Wallace has returned to the EIS program. We are so glad to have her back on the team, especially because Debra has a way of putting clients at ease. "When I want to offer a client HIV testing, I start slow. We might talk about their day. After they get calm and comfortable we start talking about their risk behaviors and what they can do to avoid HIV. We just have a good conversation and they don't have a problem with the test, especially when I tell them it's just a little finger stick and you get your results in 60 seconds."
ARC / Athens Exceeded Goal Set
at Annual Meeting
Shannon Corda, counselor and EIS worker at Alliance
Recovery Center in Athens
"Our goal was to test 100 patients per quarter and we
tested 106!" says Shannon Corda. For a medication
assisted treatment clinic with an active census of just under
300, a goal of 100 HIV tests per quarter is
ambitious. But Shannon is optimistic. "In September we provided rapid HIV and HCV testing to about 30 people at Recovery Fest. Jessica Ross of ARC/Decatur drew confirmatory specimens for the positive HCV tests (we didn't have any preliminary HIV positive results).
2,956 HIV Tests, 4 New Confirmed HIV+ Diagnoses
During Q3/2019, Georgia's EIS program tested 2,956 individuals for HIV. Ot those, 96% received their results. All 4 newly diagnosed HIV-positive clients were referred to medical care; 3 were confirmed linked and one was reported to Georgia Department of Public Health for follow-up. This quarter EIS workers provided on-going support to 81 HIV+ clients, served 22 new clients previously diagnosed HIV+, and re-linked 16 who had fallen out of treatment to medical care.
2,876 HCV Screens, 239 New HCV+ Diagnoses
During Q3/2019, Georgia's EIS program screened 2,876 individuals for HCV. Of those, 339 tested HCV Ab+ and 239 were confirmed RNA+ or chronically infected with HCV. During the same period, 181 HCV+ clients took the first step in the linkage process by completing HCV education and 57 attended their first medical appointment.