Post Office Box #1299, Northampton MA 01061-1299
Tel: (413) 586-8288/ Fax: (413) 586-8996
Since 1991, A Positive Place, formerly AIDS CARE/Hampshire County, has been the sole provider of comprehensive, confidential case management and health-related support services, filling life saving needs for people living with HIV/AIDS in the county. Anyone living with HIV or AIDS is eligible for services regardless of level of need, health status, or ability to pay. Our services are free of charge to people living with HIV.
Our mission is to improve the quality of life for people living with HIV/AIDS and to reduce the risk of transmission of the virus in our community. Our multidisciplinary HIV Care team works with medical partners, clients and other providers to enhance health outcomes for people living with HIV/AIDS, ensure equitable access to and retention in care, reduce transmission of the virus, and decrease health disparities based on ethnicity, race, and sexual orientation.
Philosopy & Services
To help us meet these goals we provide the following services using a harm reduction, trauma-informed framework that is culturally competent and inclusive of diverse backgrounds and needs. Services are provided at our community-based offices in downtown Northampton, at clients’ homes, and at provider sites and other programs where clients may reside.
Case Management for Medical and Social Services
This refers to on-going assistance in accessing all resources for people living with the virus including referrals and accompaniment to HIV/AIDS knowledgeable doctors, and little-known resources available to people infected with HIV/AIDS. Our case managers also provide education about the disease and different medications; help newly diagnosed individuals notify partners and share information with family and friends; support clients in living a full, healthy, and active life while preventing transmission of the virus; coordinate medical care and social services; and offer non-judgmental emotional support, advocacy and referrals.
Medical Care Coordination
Our Medical Case Manager works one-on-one with patients to ensure that all medical care - including primary care, infectious disease and other specialty care, mental health, substance use, dental – is scheduled promptly and coordinated efficiently between providers. She tracks lab work schedules, annual exams, and acts as a liaison between providers to ensure that communication is appropriately shared to benefit patients. She is an avid listener and top-notch educator when it comes to reducing risk through sexual and/or drug using activities.
There are many resources and financial assistance programs designed specifically for people living with HIV that support their economic, residential, medical, and social stability. These include federal and state entitlements such as Social Security, health insurance, drug reimbursement, food stamps, EAEDC, TANF, etc. as well as local resources that help cover the cost of car repairs, rental arrears, and the like. Our Resource Specialist keeps current and familiar with ever changing rules and regulations, and is especially adept at supporting individuals and families in navigating complex systems and institutions. She maintains close relationships with contacts at programs and helps clients fill out applications, follow up with programs, and advocate for their own needs.
Housing Support & Advocacy
Since 2002, the agency’s Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS Program has demonstrated that the provision of housing assistance integrated with other supportive services helps clients meet their needs of increased independence, financial/legal/housing stability, quality medical care, increased adherence to medication regimens, and a risk-free lifestyle. Our Housing Advocate supports clients with housing searches, referrals, landlord negotiations, completion of housing applications and much more. A Positive Place also maintains a limited number of tenant-based rental subsidies for eligible clients.
Weekly Support Group
"Connections," is the agency’s weekly support group, co-facilitated by a licensed mental health clinician and our Peer Advocate. Members share concerns about the challenge of living with HIV, family issues, relationships, health, medications, doctor appointments, life before HIV, the practical things that make life more comfortable, spiritual concerns, and more. Topics may be suggested by the facilitators or by any member. It is the members who make the group meaningful for themselves.
Peer Support & Monthly Peer Gatherings
Individual peer support (offered by a peer living with HIV) is provided as a fully integrated component of our case management and health related services model. Our Peer Advocate supports client access to health and support services; supports client retention in care; helps navigate service systems and accompanies clients to appointments; engages in adherence support and risk reduction work. He is available to any client, especially newly diagnosed individuals and those at risk of disengaging from care. Also, one morning per month staff invite all clients to a "Koffee Klatch," and one afternoon per month we open our doors for "Game Day." Our goals are simple: decrease isolation and strengthen our community; empower clients to identify and build on skills, talents, and passions; and improve their quality of life.
A Positive Place works to ensure that clients in our region, with limited access to transportation, can access the medical and social services they need through a variety of transportation supports, including: bus tokens, bus passes, and volunteer rides. Medical transportation is available for attendance at primary and specialty care medical appointments, social services appointments, peer support groups, mental health counseling and drug treatment, and meetings with social case managers.
Adherence Support & Positive Prevention
All members of our HIV Care team understand the immediate and long-term impacts that medications have in influencing patient health and quality of life and we often engage in conversations around treatment issues and side-effects management. The team keeps abreast of a range of adherence strategies and options to support clients including medication reminders, and scheduling and dietary strategies. They are also trained to support people living with HIV/AIDS around sexual health promotion and substance use risk reduction in a judgment free environment.
In order to support adherence to treatment and maintenance of health, A Positive Place provides eligible HIV+ clients with limited emergency assistance in the form of food vouchers to supplement their nutritional needs, over-the-counter medications, and access to rental and utilities assistance.
Information & Referrals
A Positive Place has a wide network of interagency collaborations with other providers throughout the region, all of which serve as links in our integrated, continuum of care for our clients. Where ACHC staff leaves off, these others take up, supporting clients from initial phone contact to accompanying them for a first visit with an external provider.
CONSUMER ADVISORY BOARD
A Positive Place draws on the expertise of clients to maximize the effectiveness of services and programs, as well as to develop and redesign services. We actively encourage HIV/AIDS infected individuals to participate on the Consumer Advisory Board (CAB) that meets monthly. Over the years, CAB members have spearheaded focus groups to identify unmet needs, advocated for changes in the service delivery system, identified needs to reach out to those who are HIV+ and not in care, designed and distributed outreach materials, helped organize nutritional events, and participated in determining which client services to increase and/or decrease. Agency staff supports the CAB in these efforts, and is committed to maintaining an active and engaged client presence in all functions.
We are funded through a variety of sources including: The Federal Ryan White CARE Act, in conjunction with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health; The Federal Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS Act (HOPWA), through the City of Springfield Office of Housing & Neighborhood Services; the Friends of AIDS CARE/Hampshire County, a volunteer fundraising group; and individual donations (which are tax deductible).
For more information, contact us Monday through Friday between 9 am and 5 pm.