From left, Rhode Island Department of Corrections Professional Services Coordinator Teresa Foley and Medical Programs Director Dr. Jennifer Clarke discuss their roles in a new HIV/AIDS grant with RIC's Institute for Education in Healthcare Director Tonya Glantz.
RIC’s Institute for Education in Healthcare (IEH) was awarded a one-year $1.3 million grant by the Rhode Island Executive Office of Health and Human Services to “revive public awareness’’ about HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment and establish innovative approaches to care and workforce preparation in the field.
“This grant is a tremendous opportunity for the institute and for RIC,’’ said IEH Director Tonya Glantz. “It’s the first time Rhode Island has reached out to higher education institutions in the state and said that something needs to be done differently regarding treating HIV/AIDS. The cutting-edge experiences our students are going to have will be extraordinary.’’
Glantz said the grant program, which will be known as RIC COEXIST, will shine a new light on HIV/AIDS intervention by addressing four goals:
• Building capacity to expand interest among students in HIV/AIDS careers through a cross-disciplinary curriculum.
• Creating student-centered intensive case management teams.
• Establishing a wider array of early intervention services related to HIV/AIDS risk reduction.
• Promoting comprehensive professional development among the state’s HIV/AIDS service providers.
Ultimately, Glantz said the aim of RIC COEXIST is “to bring all the different systems together to really think constructively about where we’ve come from with HIV/AIDS and where we potentially should go with it.’’
Collaboration is central to the project, whose community partners include the Rhode Island Department of Correction’s Intake Center in Cranston (where inmates are processed and transferred to other facilities), Community Care Alliance’s new residential program for people affected by homelessness and HIV and an assisted living center for older adults living with HIV. IEH is also seeking to partner with community health centers on the project.
On-campus partners include the School of Nursing, School of Social Work, programs in justice studies and gerontology within the Sociology Department, the program in health care administration within the School of Business, and the program in community, health and wellness within the Health and Physical Education Department.
RIC students will be selected and then trained to participate on intensive case management teams that will assist the program’s community partners.
At the Department of Corrections’ Intake Center, students will help assess and explore risk behaviors among up to 5,000 inmates this coming year. At the assisted living center, students will be instrumental in creating HIV treatment services for older adults that Glantz said “will require an approach that likely looks different than addressing HIV on college campuses.’’
Economically speaking, the grant could augment service and support to the HIV community, according to Glantz.
“For someone who has HIV/AIDS but doesn’t have access to health care or has fallen out of care, the public cost implications are very severe,’’ she said. “If we can reach out and engage people with HIV, we can defray costs and empower someone to own their health and lessen the transmission of this disease.’’
Glantz credited IEH Executive Director and School of Business Assistant Professor Marianne Raimondo with securing the grant.
“Marianne has been working with this community for a long time, doing quality assurance and forging direct relationships with organizations that provide service to people with HIV/AIDS,’’ Glantz said. “Her reputation has made RIC a beacon for this work.’’