HIV Clinic Improvement and Community Engagement


Gregory Felzien, MD, discusses the surprising benefits HIV clinics encounter when they enhance community engagement.

Segment Description: Gregory Felzien, MD, AAHIVS, medical advisor, Division of Health Protection, Georgia Department of Public Health, discusses the surprising benefits clinics encounter when they enhance community engagement.

Interview transcript: (modified slightly for readability)

I'm really excited about this poster that we've presented. First off, having organizations like Prime Education supporting these types of projects because they are so, so important. I think there a couple of things that we have to think about that are real big takeaways, like the willingness for these facilities to be involved in a project like this, because a lot of times when you tell a facility we'd like to do a project there's a lot of pushback, “we don't have time we don't have space. This seems like a lot of effort. And we're not going to be able to participate.”

And we've had some really good facilities really want to be involved in this, and not just see it as a project with an end of presenting something at the end, but really being able to create action plans and bringing community together.

Many times what we see is we have administrators or the physician themselves in a clinic say, “well, I know what's best for this clinic. These are the changes we're going to make moving forward,” and not involve the rest of the staff or make sure they're involving the community. And that's what this study did. It really brought these different factors together.

The other big takeaway is, to really see that there are gaps and perceptions between the clinic providers and the community that they serve. In one instance, one of the clinic staff made the statement that “you know, we have bus passes, we have gas vouchers, we have Lyft. We have Uber. We have all these ways getting individuals to the clinic. So transportation shouldn't be an issue.” But on the community side in the survey, one of the top 3 issues was transportation. So there's a disconnect.

What the great thing was is that facility really thought about this and said, “okay, we're going to create an action plan to improve this.” So you can imagine if I'm in a rural community, then they say, “oh, we're going to use one of these new ways of transportation.” The car pulls up, I recognize the car—it might be a relative, somebody I go to church with—I'm not going to get in that car, because they're going to take me to a place where suddenly I'm disclosing my status or my lifestyle.

I think really, what a study like this does is a couple of things. A lot of these facilities have limited resources and where do we start to improve systems and flows? Well doing a study like this really can prioritize where that funding can go and where those resources can go to make improvements. The other big takeaway that can be really exciting with this is it's not just a single effort, meaning that you can look at what the top 3 or 4 gaps are in improving flow and systems and then repeat the same study again in 6 months, 12 months down the road, to see were there improvements, do there need to be additional changes? I think this can be an ongoing quality in continuing to make improvements and making sure individuals can access care.

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