Consumer Committee Minutes May 21, 2024


Minutes of the


Chairs: Charmaine Graham, Marcelo Maia

Consumer-At-Large: Raffi Babakhanian

Tuesday, May 21, 2024, 2:05PM – 4:00PM


Committee Members Present: Charmaine Graham (Co-chair), Marcelo Maia Soares (Co-chair), Raffi Babakhanian (Consumer-at-Large), Asia Betancourt, Billy Fields, Lawrence Francis, Yves Gebhardt, John Goldenbridge, Ralph Henderson, David Klotz, David Martin, Natasha Martin, John Schoepp, Rob Walker

Staff and Guests Present: Jeff Klein, Kimbirly Mack (Planning Council); Gina Gambone, Jacqueline Graham, Frances Silva, Grace Herndon, Bryan Meisel (DOHMH CTP); José Colón-Berdecía

Agenda Item #1: Welcome/Introductions/Minutes

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

David introduced Jeff, who will officially start as a Council community planner on June 3rd and will support the Consumers and Integration of Care Committees.  Jeff expressed his eagerness to get to know the Committee and support its work.

The Committee thanked José for his work supporting the Committee and wished him well in his recovery.  José thanked the committee and staff for the dedication and warm wishes.

Agenda Item #2: CAB Survey Results

Gina and Jacqueline presented on the results of a survey on the state of client advisory boards (CABs) in Ryan White Part A (RWPA) programs, which was undertaken in response to the Committee’s data request in December.  The results will help inform quality improvement activities as well as the Committee’s workshop at the July provider meeting.  Of the total 72 RWPA subrecipients (funded agencies), 61 (85%) responded.  The QM program followed up with non-respondents, but eventually had to move forward to have the results in time for this meeting.  Of the 61 respondents, 49% were CBOs, 24% hospitals, 16% community health centers, and 9% other.  Sixty-five percent had a CAB (about half at CBOs).  Most of the CABs are not specific to the RWPA program but address RWPA services.    

Details of CAB functioning were reported (e.g., 40% meet monthly, 60% had between 5 and 15 members, almost all have memberships that reflect the agency’s RWPA clients, most keep meeting minutes and about a third have other procedures in place such as bylaws).  There was a mixture of financial and administrative support and many provide transportation assistance.  Specific responses were presented giving a fuller picture of how CABs are part of a larger agency QM program and the challenges agencies have had with CABs (e.g., recruitment, conflicts, COVID-related concerns).  There were also examples of successes, such as peer-to-peer connections, meaningful feedback that have led to improvements, and employment of CAB members).  Outputs of CAB work have included town halls, bylaws, improved security measures, CAB retreat, and an HIV and aging program.  

Agencies without a CAB had a similar profile to those who did.  Reasons cited for not having a CAB included low attendance, short-term relationships with clients (e.g., in Early Intervention Services programs), and opting to use client satisfaction surveys and other forms of feedback.  Most of the agencies without CABs had one in the past and 80% cited COVID as the reason for discontinuing them.  Staff shortages were also cited.  

A majority of agencies said that they would be interested in sharing their experience with CABs with the QM program or Consumers Committee and would be open to receiving guidance about CAB implementation, particularly around member recruitment and best practices.

Highlights of the ensuing discussion follow:

  • The high percentage of subrecipients that have CABs came as a pleasant surprise.  
  • Responses on how well CABs function might be different if the CAB members were surveyed.  It was noted that surveys with clients have higher barriers due to the need for institutional review board approval.
  • Some agencies turned to consumer surveys as a stopgap during COVID and the adoption of CABs might increase as agencies get back to normal service delivery.
  • Some agencies may have used COVID as a pretext for discontinuing or not restarting CABs.
  • One avenue for consumers to provide feedback may be directly through the Council website.

The Committee will use the data presented to further refine the Best Practices Guidelines for the July provider workshop.

Agenda Item 3: Report on ACQC CAB Retreat

Charmaine and Marcelo reported on their presentation, with Raffi, at a retreat of the AIDS Center of Queens County (ACQC) CAB on May 10th.  There were about 15 CAB members present, plus support staff.  The support from the Executive Director was impressive, but it was concerning that the leadership seemed to come from the staff liaison, rather than the CAB chairs.  The presentation was well received and will help shape the July workshop, which will be to a very different audience, as the ACQC CAB already implements many of the best practices guidelines developed by the Committee.

Agenda Item 4: New Business/Public Comment

Marcelo noted the resurgence in Mpox and urged DOHMH to respond accordingly.

John reported that an RFP for HOPWA funded housing has been released.

Charmaine thanked everyone for their participation.

The next meeting will be in-person at DOHMH on June 17th with a hot lunch served. There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned.  

The poll showed a preference for question #3, with questions #2 and 4 tied for second place.  The Committee expressed their support for efforts to measure stigma and thanked the REU staff for bringing this for feedback.  Comments from the discussion included:

  • Measuring the intensity of stigma would provide important data.
  • Internalized stigma is deep rooted and difficult to overcome.
  • Much stigma is rooted in disgust with gay sexuality.
  • Providers may need technical assistance on how to ask stigma-related questions.
  • There needs to be a focus on providers not perpetuating stigma.

Agenda Item 3: Revising CAB Best Practice Guidelines (continued)

The Committee continued review of the CAB Best Practices Guidelines and made the following changes:

  • Insert language about the need for formal bylaws, which covers a number of other points in the guidelines.
  • Add that there is a focus on positive interactions and better outcomes for both clients and staff.
  • Add that CAB meetings are safe spaces and that members need to be able to speak out without fear of retaliation.
  • Recommendations about financial support from the agency and resources dedicated to supporting the CAB and member participation. 
  • In-person meetings are preferable, as they allow for more dynamic participation. Agencies must ensure that they are accessible.
  • Agencies should make CABs welcoming to clients from under-represented populations.

David will revise the slides to reflect the above changes and send to the Committee for final review.

Agenda Item 4: Expanding Consumer Outreach

Raffi presented proposed changes to the PowerPoint that Jose had used for his outreach sessions.  He stressed the importance of having Committee members conduct outreach.  The Committee agreed to review the outreach presentation at the next meeting.

Agenda Item 5: New Business/Public Comment

Doienne reminded the Committee of the upcoming virtual “brown bag” learning session.  The Mayor’s Office of Economic Opportunity will use the CAB guidelines as an example of “human-centered design”. 

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned.