A commitment to HIV/AIDS patients
Sister Bridget McCarthy recalls her work at Dignity Health (then CHW) in the early days of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
“I was the CEO at Mercy General in Sacramento and we had retained a consultant to assess the critical needs of the HIV/AIDs Community. As a result of that work we partnered with other health systems to co-found a new medical clinic to serve AIDS patients. The formation of the Center for AIDS Research and Services, known as CARES demonstrated that local healthcare providers were willing to work together to commit resources to respond to the serious medical needs of AIDS patients.”
Now known as One Community Health, CARES continues to provide compassionate care to people living with HIV and AIDS in the Sacramento area.
Dr. Patricia Galamba
Dr. Patricia Galamba, retired San Francisco primary care physician, helped develop a palliative care program at Saint Francis Memorial Hospital in the late 1980s out of necessity, because so many otherwise healthy men were becoming critically ill, coming to the hospital, then dying. Palliative care optimized their quality of life and mitigated suffering among these patients by providing them specialized medical care.
AIDS Memorial, pictured left to right are:
– Julie Maxson, Director, Care Coordination – Saint Francis Memorial Hospital and St. Mary’s Medical Center
– Daryn Kumar, President & CEO – Saint Francis Memorial Hospital and St. Mary’s Medical Center
– Allie Kumar
– Dr. Patricia Galamba
– Donnie Nelson, Nurse Manager, Palliative Care – Saint Francis Memorial Hospital and St. Mary’s Medical Center
Dr. Galamba, with other Saint Francis Memorial Hospital leaders, helped unfold a large section of the AIDS Memorial Quilt in Golden Gate Park during a display marking the Quilt’s 35th anniversary. It was the largest display of the Quilt in San Francisco history. When the AIDS Memorial Quilt was first displayed on the National Mall in 1987, it contained 1,920 panels commemorating people who had died of the disease. The Quilt, now more than 50,000 panels strong, continues to be a powerful educator and symbol for social justice.
For more than three decades, the CARE Center at St. Mary Medical Center in Long Beach has offered a food pantry for HIV patients. The pantry provides fresh, healthy foods and recipes tailored to patients’ needs and taking into account cultural preferences, thanks to Registered Dietitian Tammy Basile, who runs the pantry. During the pandemic, some of the Center’s most severely immunocompromised patients stopped coming to the pantry because leaving their home posed too great a health risk. Basile knew these patients still needed fresh groceries to be healthy, so, nearly overnight, the food pantry went mobile. Read More
Sister Mary Philippa Clinic
The Sister Mary Philippa Health Center at St. Mary’s Medical Center in San Francisco, provides the high standard of care the LGBTQ+ community deserves. Specifically, the clinic is a comprehensive outpatient center that provides access to care for people with HIV to promote longevity and quality of life.
Since his HIV diagnosis, clinic patient Wayne Malek has been treated at St. Mary’s for ongoing and emergency issues, too, and said he experienced compassionate, coordinated care. “It’s not that I’m just going into the doctor and they’re just looking at my HIV—they are looking more broadly at my health to think holistically and long term,” he said. Read More
CARE Center Director Paul Lovely describes how care for HIV patients has changed over time:
“In the early 1980s HIV care was really about doing our best to treat the infections associated with AIDS, and to make patients as comfortable as possible as their illness progressed. In the late 80s and early 90s some medications became available to treat HIV itself—antiretroviral medications like AZT – and a lot of the care we provided was around managing the sometimes serious side effects of these complex regiments. In fact my first job in HIV was mostly helping patients organize their pill trays and explain side effects and dosing to them.”
CARE Center (cont.)
“By the end of the 90s there started to be a lot of hope that HIV was survivable, but at the same time there was still a huge amount of loss. The early 2000s saw a lot of progress in making HIV antiretroviral treatment simpler and less toxic. By the early 2010s most people newly infected with HIV could take a one daily pill regimen and could expect to live a full and healthy life—treating HIV more like a chronic illness, rather than a deadly disease. Most recently, our attention has turned more toward using HIV medications to prevent HIV infection altogether, using PrEP.”
HIV/AIDS Treatment and Prevention
HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention efforts have improved vastly over the past several decades. People can now live healthy, vibrant lives with the virus, and they can even reach standard life expectancies.
Learn more about HIV/AIDS Treatment and Prevention