HELP center expands care for SE Queens HIV patients

By Ivan Pereira

Last Thursday the center expanded the service for its patients by opening its newest wing dedicated to primary health care. The wing will feature new examination rooms and equipment specifically designed to treat HIV patients in the proper manner.”You have to be sensitive to various nuances,” said Registered Nurse Patricia Williams, the nurse manager for the facility. “What would be something minor for someone without the virus can be devastating to someone with a weak immune system.”Dr. Barbara Zeller, the center's medical director, said the new medical offices will complement the other services offered by the center, which include counseling, medical referrals and pharmacy services.”I believe primary care is a big help for most of our clients here. We know with HIV and AIDS patients, this is a challenge. It's not simple for them,” she said.Valerie Williams, a patient, agreed. When she went to other doctors for medical assistance, she felt her physician was not giving her adequate attention and the care she needed and rushed her checkups.”I came to PSI and with this doctor it took an hour just for him to explain to me everything about my blood work and how my medications affect it. At other places it's an hour and you're done,” she said.HELP/PSI was created in 1990 under the name “Project Samaritan” to develop a new way of providing health care to AIDS patients with a history of drug use. Its first residential care facility in the Bronx provided patients with a community of support that included health and psycho-social services, including peer groups, counseling and treatment.”We treat our programs as complements with our PSI community. That's the key to run a center that cares,” said Janet Walpole the program director for the Queens Adult Health Care center.The first HELP/PSI center opened in Queens in 1998.Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

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