Edmonton HIV outreach team searching for partners as government funds run dry

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Zabrzenski said they make sure the program isn’t duplicating services that other organizations in Edmonton offer. She said those services could be everything from providing a meal to making sure they have access to family doctors or addiction counsellors.

The team was first funded through the province’s pharmaceutical services, said Zabrzenski. When pharmaceutical funding changed in 2018, the team began operating under a $1-million, two-year pilot program grant while they worked to find additional funding.

That grant expires this summer. Alberta Health Spokesman Tom McMillan said they had repeatedly told the ACE team their funding would not be extended and provided advice on next steps.

“We recognize the importance of helping patients with complex diseases and illnesses access the care they need. Alberta Health already provides funding to AHS to deliver similar services as the ACE team,” said McMillan in an email. “ACE typically had fewer than 40 individuals enrolled in the program at one time, and AHS will ensure they continue to receive the support they need.”

Ron Wai, director of Mint Health and Drugs, said without the government grant the team is operating at a loss.

“Mint Health + Drugs funds ACE and it is currently at a loss to continue doing work that benefits public health,” said Wai.

‘An essential service’

Zabrzenski said her team is now trying to expand into other areas to ensure they are sustainable. She said she remains hopeful that they will be able to find other community partners, both public and private, to allow for them to continue their work.

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