Consumer Committee Minutes January 22, 2024


Minutes of the


Chairs: Charmaine Graham, Marcelo Maia

Consumer-At-Large: Raffi Babakhanian

Tuesday, January 22, 2024, 1:00PM – 2:45PM


Committee Members Present:

Charmaine Graham (Co-chair), Marcelo Maia Soares (Co-chair), Lawrence Francis, John Goldenbridge, Ralph Henderson, David Klotz, David Martin, Leo Ruiz, John Schoepp, Rob Walker, Steven Wilcox

Staff and Guests Present:

Doienne Saab, Guadalupe Dominguez Plummer, Gina Gambone, Francis Silva, Febuary D’Auria, Kimbirly Mack

Agenda Item 1: Welcome & Introductions/Moment of Silence/Minutes

Charmaine and Marcelo opened the meeting, followed by introductions and a moment of silence.  The minutes of the December 19th meeting were approved with no changes.

Agenda Item 2: Dialogue on CABs and Client Feedback           

The Consumers Committee and the leadership of the Ryan White Part A (RWPA) Quality Improvement (QI) Program met to discuss begin a dialogue on ensuring effective client input to improve the quality of RWPA programs.  Marcelo presented the Committee’s goal of working with DOHMH to meet the goals and objectives of client advisory boards (CABs): effective client input for improving the quality of programs.  The Committee believes that CABs are the most effective means of providing critical perspectives of people with lived experience, and also have the value of making clients true stakeholders in programs and building leadership and empowerment (including for potential new Council members).  CABs also allow their members to exchange information and give each other support. 

The Committee proposed strategies for promoting CABs, including joint Consumers Committee/ DOHMH presentations to RWPA providers on the benefits of CABs, disseminating existing CAB best practices, and incentivizing CABs in the RFP process.  Rob discussed the successes he has had with the CAB at Callen-Lorde, which gets administrative support from the agency, but is run autonomously by the members.  The CAB also formed sub-committees on special populations.

Gina explained that while CABs were no longer mandatory due to staffing difficulties, RWPA providers are required to provide people with HIV a meaningful way to provide input into the implementation of RWPA programs, as stated in every contract.  This can be done using a variety of strategies, including: CABs; Consumer satisfaction/experience surveys; Consumer participation in the subrecipient’s quality management committee; and other methods proposed by the subrecipient.  The QI Program is looking to strengthen the CABs that exist and encourage more, but that there is an emphasis on quality, rather than quantity, i.e., that agencies do not just “go through the motions” of having a CAB.

Gina reported that the QI Program will use the Consumers Committee’s data request to develop a survey of providers, will require all of them to respond, and will report the results to the Committee.  She will work with the Committee before the next meeting to refine and focus the survey questions. 

Points from the discussion included:

  • CABs need management buy-in.  The programs should give presentations to the CABs on new initiatives, program changes, etc. and get meaningful input. 
  • Surveys have low response rates and do not allow for qualitative input.  Also, the questions would have to be vetted and a representative sample collected.
  • It’s a win-win for providers and clients when a CAB is effective, but only if agencies listen to clients and report back on actions taken.
  • Both CABs and providers can evaluate CAB effectiveness and lessons learned from unsuccessful CABs can be disseminated.  

Gina invited the Committee to develop and lead a session at the next in-person RWPA providers meeting in July.  It can be specific to CABs or be more broadly about community engagement and client input.  She offered the QI Program’s assistance and input on the workshop.  She also suggested that the Committee may want to update the Best Practices guide to make it more current (e.g., include information about hybrid/ virtual meetings).  There was a consensus to form a subcommittee to update the guidelines and work with the QI Program to develop a presentation for the annual provider meeting in July.  Febuary added that the State can work on an online platform for organizations to discuss barriers to having effective CABs and how to overcome them.

David K. summarized that the QI Program will work with the Committee before the next meeting on the provider survey questions and will present the results later this spring.  The Committee will form a sub-committee to revise the Best Practices guidelines and develop a presentation at the annual RWPA providers meeting.

Guadalupe and Gina thanked the Committee for inviting their team to the meeting and stressed that they are here to work in partnership with consumers to improve RWPA programs.

Agenda Item 4: Consumer Letter on Procurement

David K. reported that the letter regarding the difficulty the Council staff is having getting Council support budget items approved was sent to the OMB director and the other cc’s (the Mayor, City Council president, Commissioner of Health, etc.) on January 12th.  Two more officials will also be sent a copy (Deputy Mayor for Social Services, Public Advocate).  A response is awaited.  David M. read the text of the letter. 

David K. reported that the Council is about to receive gift cards, which will be distributed soon to retroactively cover most of the current planning year.

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned.