Imagine Hope Quarterly Report
October - December 2020
Glimmers of Light thru the Chaos
Of 49 Imagine Hope partner agencies, not one has remained unscathed by the COVID-19 epidemic. Despite precautions, every clinic has had at least one worker out sick - often, multiple nurses are out. Staffing patterns continue to be severely disrupted and, in some cases, there has been turnover.
While some sites have seen a decline in screening for HIV and HCV, a few are testing more than ever. And statewide, the daily heroism of holding the front line continues.
"I miss the annual conference so much. To all the wonderful people that I see each year: I am thinking about each of you. I miss you; be careful; stay strong; continue to fight. We're still in this together." - Vivian Hunter, Quentin's Place
"The COVID epidemic didn't end HIV. People still need to know their status, so I try to test everyone," says Vivian Hunter of Quentin's Place, a residential crisis unit in Dublin. "It matters to me - I have more hope for my clients when they know their status. And when someone tests positive, getting them linked to care can literally make the difference between life and death."
"We were able to provide HCV treatment to our 9th client this quarter!" - Shannon Corda, Alliance Recovery/Athens
Since June 2019, Alliance Recovery Center,
an MAT in Athens, has been providing HCV treatment in-house. "It's such a big deal," says therapist Shannon Corda. "The medicine is expensive and most of our clients don't have insurance. So to be able to help them get medication is wonderful - and when they complete treatment, when they are cured - that is thrilling."
"It wasn't an option to close our doors; the patients needed care so we had to figure it out." - Marcus Lucas, Infection Control Nurse, Highland Rivers Health
This quarter, Highland Rivers Health screened 499 clients for HCV and set a new record with 572 HIV screens - up 16% over the same quarter last year. Marcus credits Diane Sutphin, who works on the crisis unit, with the high volume of testing.
"I had COVID and my husband almost died from the virus. But every day as soon as I get up, I think about all the things I'm grateful for. And one of those things is my work. I used to be a surgical nurse, but this is the job that makes me feel like I'm making a difference in people's lives." - Theresha Threadcraft, Aspire Behavioral health
This quarter at Aspire Behavioral Health in Albany, Georgia, Theresha Threadcraft screened105 clients for HIV and 112 for HCV. She diagnosed 9 HCV/RNA+ clients, providing all 9 with HCV education and successfully linking 4 to their first medical appointment. She also diagnosed and linked one new HIV-positive client to care and helped 2 self-identified HIV-positive clients resume medical treatment.
"Jocelyn Vaughn and Maggie China are really rocking screening at Glynn and Chatham Behavioral Health Crisis Centers." - Jim Rowe, Gateway Behavioral Health
This quarter, Gateway Behavioral Health Services in Brunswick screened 254 clients for HIV and 516 for HCV. "Our whole organization is absolutely rocking to an awesome and exciting beat," says Jim Rowe. "Our numbers are down but in my eyes, in my heart, we are jamming out!"
Pictured (L to R): Christie Anderson, Jim Rowe, Cathy Thompson, and Joycelyn Vaughn.
"We had more new HCV diagnoses this quarter than we've ever had before." - Ali McCorkle, Program Director, DM & ADR
DM&ADR, an Athens MAT clinic, diagnosed 11 clients (9.6% of those screened) HCV Ab/RNA-positive this quarter.
They also screened 119 clients for HIV. One HIV+ client whose medication is mailed to their home each month was afraid someone would steal it from the mailbox, so the meds are now shipped to the clinic.
Right Side Up, MARR's residential treatment site for women screened 40 clients for HIV this quarter.
MARR / Right Side Up also made the long-awaited transition from serum-based to rapid HIV screening, with 90% of those tested agreeing to the rapid test.
2,045 HIV Tests, 4 New Confirmed HIV+ Diagnoses
During Q4/2020, the Imagine Hope Program screened 2,045 individuals for HIV. Of those, 99.9% received their results. All four newly diagnosed HIV-positive clients were linked to care. This quarter nurses and counselors provided on-going support to 130 HIV+ clients, served 25 new clients who were previously diagnosed HIV+ and re-linked 13 who had fallen out of treatment to medical care.
2,125 HCV Tests, 174 New HCV/RNA+ Diagnoses
During Q4/2020, the Imagine Hope Program screened 2,125 individuals for HCV. Of those, 285 tested HCV Ab+ and 174 were confirmed RNA+ or chronically infected with HCV. During the same period, 132 HCV+ clients took the first step in the linkage continuum when they received liver health/HCV education and 84 were linked and confirmed to have attended their first medical appointment.