In the Community and Of the Community
Over the course of the last couple of years, our community health initiatives have grown bolder and begun more direct outreach into the communities we serve. Two years ago, we began a partnership with a specialty pharmacy and are now helping to provide people living with HIV/AIDS with personalized treatment adherence plans. We are excited that this spring, our efforts have grown even stronger with the addition of Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) and a Youth Access Program.
Our new HCBS program provides opportunities for Medicaid beneficiaries to receive services in their own homes, rather than in institutional settings. Our team helps targeted populations (such as people with intellectual or developmental disabilities, physical challenges and/or mental illness) in a variety of ways. We are helping them to gain and develop skills in communication, domestic arts, health care, socialization and understanding how to access community resources. We help people with disabilities identify and develop roles in the community with regard to living, learning, working and/or participating in social environments. Peers are helping to develop empowerment services, using trauma-informed, non-clinical help to achieve long term recovery from substance use and mental health issues. Our team helps to identify opportunities for face to face services, advocacy, appropriate community programs and interim home visits after hospitalization.
“For over twenty years, people in need of services came to us,” said Iris House Executive Director Ingrid Floyd, “But more and more, we realize that there entire populations who need us to come to them first. Going to them and helping them to help themselves is the next step in our work. Our hope is that by seeing their peers — people facing similar challenges — functioning in the community, advocating for themselves, and holding down jobs, these people will gain the confidence, the life skills and the independence to enhance the quality and security of life.”
Another new program offered at Iris House is the Youth Access Program, a new collaboration with Brightpoint Health. “We have collaborated on several projects with Brightpoint over the past few years,” said Senior Director of Community Health Initiatives Ofelia Barrios. “When they were looking for a partner for this program, directly helping high risk young adults, particularly young men who have sex with men and young transgender persons of color, they knew they could count on us and our work with these populations.”
YAP offers a range of programs: comprehensive mobile medical services for young MSM/TG of color who are Medicaid eligible, regardless of insurance; empowerment services and peer support, particularly in assistance to HIV education, assistance to linkage, advocacy and treatment, and increased awareness of community medical and supportive services. We offer monthly education workshops such as HIV 101, Youth Vulnerability to HIV, Myths and Realities and more. We offer assessments and referrals for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) and Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP), and rapid HIV, Hepatitis C and STI Testing and Treatment.
Additionally, Iris House is presenting a series of Community Dinner Workshops with Gilead Sciences in Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens and New Jersey on a rotation of HIV related topics, including monthly sessions in Spanish. More information on those dinners can be found by following us on Facebook.