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Pasadena AIDS Service Center moves to Public Health Department

By Sara Cardine 03/29/2012

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Pasadena’s AIDS Service Center (ASC), a nonprofit that has provided outreach, education and support to thousands throughout Los Angeles County since 1987, has officially moved its service arm to the city’s Public Health Department at 1845 N. Fair Oaks Ave.

The March 9 relocation was part of a four-month plan to help the group retain about $2.5 million in annual federal funding while creating a one-stop shop suite of medical and support services for clients.

“We are still a 501(c)3, we still have a board of directors and we’re determining the what the memos of understanding and the agreements with the city will be,” Anthony Guthmiller, ASC’s newly appointed executive director, said Tuesday. “From the clients’ perspective, they actually will have a more comprehensive care approach.”

Now that the move has been made, the Service Center is seeking approval from LA County’s Office of AIDS Programs & Policy and Pasadena City Council for the ratification of several contracted partnerships between itself and other organizations. No specific date has been given for when details of the integration will go before the council.

For more than two decades, the AIDS Service Center has provided nursing, mental and home health services as well as basic needs, including food and clothing, to roughly 1,200 clients. Those in need of medical or clinical care, however, had to seek services through the Public Health Department, which provides outpatient medical care through its Andrew Escajeda Comprehensive Care Clinic.

A decision from the Fed to shift billions in funding for HIV/AIDS to only organizations that provide medical services could have potentially left the Service Center without two-thirds of its annual $3.8-million operating budget, Guthmiller said. The move prevents that loss.

“The AIDS Service Center doesn’t have medical services, but we do,” said Pasadena Public Health Director Dr. Eric Walsh. “We’ll actually be able to maintain and enhance services to people in the community.”

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health estimates there are 62,800 people in the county living with HIV/AIDS, at least 13,500 of whom don’t know they’re infected. If health care providers can reduce that number through testing and treatment, the viral load will diminish along with the impact of the virus on the community at large, Walsh said.

Integrating services with Public Health allows ASC not only to retain funding, but also reduce its overhead costs on facilities by as much as one-third, according to Guthmiller. 

“This was a very intricate process; not a single staff person lost their job, and there was no duplication of services — it was a perfect fit,” he added.

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