Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Bailey Boushay : A Story about a wonderful AIDS Program that may lose it's Day Program due to Budget Cuts.....

This Article linked to the title is about Bailey Boushay House in Seattle, it is an amazing AIDS Care Program, that includes all levels of medical care and coordination, Hospice and a thriving Day Program.And now their Day Program is now possibly looking at elimination due to a Funds Deficit and Budget Cuts from the State Level.I am highlighting this Program and these cuts because it is one of the premier programs in the Country.

For some that don't know, I was an AIDS Nurse in the 80's and 90's, and worked with AIDS care in Seattle for over 10 years caring for hundreds and also caring for my neighbors with HIV and AIDS.I worked ER and also Homecare and Hospice with AIDS patients.( and yes, I also worked with ACT Up and teaching HIV classes and at the First Needle Exchange in the Country). In Seattle in the late 1980's there was an AIDS Hospice that we put together in an old house, and gave care to 6 patients at a time. It was called Rosehedge, and it created a community of care. All of us that worked there educated ourselves and families and we did more than nurse, it was a place that nurtured and cared for many people.Outreach and Advocacy were critical parts of our job at that point in those early years.It was one of the few nursing jobs I ever had where I cooked at 3 am, read all kinds books to patients,and dressed patients for a Drag Show,planted a garden and painted rooms.It was not an ordinary Hospice, it extended Life and made Life enjoyable for many of the patients.

The other side of working at RoseHedge was learning that HIV was still a mystery ignored disease, Thank You President Reagan.What was stunning was recognizing that many of our Hospice Patients there could have had longer fuller lives if they had had better medical care, including Day Care. Day Care would have helped them get to Medical Appointments and most importantly help them take ALL of their meds every day and also nutritionally make sure they did not waste. For with AIDS patients, the critical issue was the more malnourished the patient, the more damage to the immune system ( this was not really documented at the time, but most AIDS nurses watched it occur as a process). Also most patients could not manage their medical care at a certain point, to be honest it is very difficult for anyone to remember to take 30-80 pills a day ( and in the proper order).

So in my 3rd year working at Rosehedge, the HIV and AIDS numbers in Seattle were staggering, and Much More Hospice was needed than a 6 bed facility and so a local Hospital began plans for a Fuller Facility that could provide Hospice and Day Care....hence the demise of the lovely Rosehedge Hospice. It was sad to see the End of RoseHedge, but it was good to see that Something Better was on the Horizon for the HIV and AIDS Community of Seattle. It was and is a Program that is recognized for it's high quality of care, and that it treated HIV as a disease that needed better care at ALL levels. HIV was finally treated as a continuum, and with a multi faceted approach from spiritual care to nutrition to mental health, as well as all levels of medical care.

And I site this article and their economic situation because around the Country under Bush AIDS and HIV programs fared poorly suffering huge cuts in aid, even though he was making flashy Trips to Africa stating that he was giving MORE aid. The Aid was only abroad, here in the States he was forcing much of the costs onto State budgets that were already overburdened.
Let's Hope that Obama and his new DHHS Administration relook at HIV and AIDS budgets and care so that places like Bailey Boushay have don't have to cut their Excellent Care or programs.

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