Friday, June 27th is National HIV testing day. There are many reasons why this day of awareness is important to acknowledge. To honor those who have lost their battle, to eliminate the stigma tied with HIV/AIDS through education and community efforts, to promote health, to support a global campaign. The post below highlights a few efforts through the Community Health Center, Inc. & its Oasis Wellness Center that provides services and social activities for people with HIV or AIDS throughout the state of CT; they include a recent recognition for outstanding outreach and enrollment efforts, an update and summary about the Oasis AIDS Memorial Quilt that’s touring the state and an invitation to the “Mad Hatter’s Testing Party” happening this weekend in Middletown.
The Oasis Wellness Center & Ryan White Programs have an amazing staff who work tirelessly to offer special services that include case management, congregate evening meals, and transportation to medical appointments. Case managers assess client’s needs and link them to primary medical care, behavioral health services, emergency financial assistance, home delivered meals, transportation, and assistance with obtaining housing. Michael Lauro, HIV Prevention Specialist, wrote the update below about CHC’s recognition and also facilitated a majority of the Quilt creation and unveiling. Doug Janssen, Outreach Coordinator for Ryan White Services has had a leading role in planning the amazing testing event you will read about below. All the staff deserves recognition but definitely wanted to give direct credit for this honorary post.
At a recent regional meeting of the HIV Prevention Services Division of the Connecticut Department of Public Health, Community Health Center was awarded a Certificate of Commendation for meeting our enrollment goals and out-performing contractors delivering the same HIV prevention interventions at other agencies in a geographic region which covers about a third of Connecticut.
The two behavioral interventions are called HIV Prevention Counseling and Comprehensive Risk Counseling & Services. Each of them targets people at high risk for acquiring or transmitting HIV, providing either single session or multi-session counseling to reduce risk and help individuals make healthier lifestyle choices. They are part of the range of HIV services offered at the Oasis Wellness Center. In one of the meeting’s “best practices” sessions, CHC was also asked to present, highlighting how CHC innovatively integrated these two programs.
The Oasis AIDS Memorial Quilt has now arrived at Community Health Center’s New London s primary care site, the final stop before it is officially shipped sometimenext month to the National Names Project headquarters in Atlanta, home to some 5,000 other similarpanels from across the country. CHC’s own memorial panel honors 30 former Oasis clients, friends, and family members of CHC who battled HIV/AIDS.
First unveiled at a moving ceremony last December on World AIDS Day in our Community Room in Middletown, the panel measures 12-by-12 feet and took some 11 months to assemble.It was hand sewn in part by a sewing circle of women living with HIV as part of their own wellness program and helped along by other sewing volunteers, embroiderers, local businesses, and others who just wanted to help.
The panel has toured CHC sites that could accommodate its large size, making stops in Middletown, Bristol, Waterbury, Meriden and New Britain. We wanted our Oasis Quilt to tour as many sites as possible so CHC employees and clients could experience the emotions it evokes,” said Kasey Harding-Wheeler, Director of Integrative Care for Special Populations. “It was the realization of a goal that for some staff members and friends it has taken a lifetime to fulfill– to honor the lives of people with HIV/AIDS whom we have been touched by and to create a permanent memorial that will serve as a reminder of those we have lost for generations to come. Some of the people on the quilt we only know from stories we have been told, some we have spent considerable time with, and still others we have been with in their last moments on earth but all of them are now linked together by their common connection to Community Health Center/Oasis and our wish for their name to be an on-going reminder of the value of human life.”
You’re Invited to the Mad Hatter Testing Party!
An amazing event is happening this Saturday in Middletown. The “Mad Hatter’s Testing Party” is a family Friendly, festival of art, music & community that has a cool Alice in Wonderland theme which is also recognizing National HIV testing day. Live music, local vendors, food trucks, free HIV testing services, activities and a fun community atmosphere! Spread the word and see you there.
When: Saturday, June 28th from 12pm-4pm.
Where: Union Park (South Green) 14 Old Church Street, Middletown, CT