Consumers Committee Minutes May 5, 2020 & May 12, 2020



Tuesday, May 5th, 2020 1:00PM – 3:00PM

By Zoom Videoconference


Committee Members Present: Randall Bruce (Co-Chair), Lisa Best (Co-Chair), Asia BetancourtPaul Carr, Peter Durant, Maria Diaz, Billy Fields, Charmaine Graham, David Klotz, David Martin, Michael Rifkin, Leo Ruiz, John Schoepp, Rob Walker 

Committee Members Absent: Atif Abdul-Haqq, Ron Joyner, Jesus Maldonado

Staff: Johanna Acosta, Guadalupe Dominguez Plummer, Kimbirly Mack, 

Agenda Item #1: Welcome/Introductions/Review of the Meeting Packet

Melanie Lawrence, staff support for the Consumers Committee opened the meeting with co-chair Lisa Best. Mr. Ruiz led us in a moment of silence.

                                            Agenda Item #2: Public Comment


Agenda Item #3: Wellness Checks

Would it be possible to modify eligibility criteria to support programs conducting wellness checks on more vulnerable members of the population.

Agenda Item #4: Priority Issues for PLWH During COVID-19

 Committee reviewed the list of issues gathered at the two previous listening sessions.

Food: PSRA has voted to direct additional funding to food programs. 

  • How people are learning that delivery of food is available from agencies, especially if they were not previously enrolled. What kind of outreach is being conducted. GRANTEE Q
  • Pantry bags suspended at many agencies – concerns of time lapse to receive vouchers
  • Tri-County has been instructed to mail vouchers and open up items for purchase (except alcohol, etc)
  • Still doing pick up at some agencies.
  • Wellness checks are happening – not all clients reached. Question on methods of contact/communication – phone numbers disconnected, etc.
  • SNAP benefits – enhanced temporarily – is this happening across the board?
  • Websites are not clearly advertising process of accessing food for clients – concern about those who have not been recently engaged.
    • Is there a central website for people to access what info on what is available? GRANTEE 
    • Getting on phone to check, or calling 311, takes a long time to get people on the phone 
  • At MetroPlus we’ve been assisting with processing and submission of GLWD applications.  Right now they are experiencing a 3 week backlog in processing new applications.

  • Especially difficult for illiterate clients – large concern in the Bx


  • Tri-County has a transportation program – for access to providers or other appointments
  • Agency is open for regular business hours but not physically open for clients.
  • Tri-Country B line buses running free on a Saturday schedule – social distancing is very difficult
  • NYC buses are operating for free as well – get in the back door. Select buses are still charging
  • All MTA services are running on a limited schedule
  • How are people to know – where and when to get masks?

Issues around the flow of information – a lot of conflicting information. The NYHIV resource guide could use input on improving its flow/ how priority issues are displayed.

We need to increase the traffic to the resource guide by ensuring that people know about it and are able to accessing it. 

Consumers Committee requests that’s COVID Resource Page be shared with all RWPA agencies. GRANTEE Q

Everyone should contact their local politicians who are posting information and resources that are specific to there area.

Mental Health: 

Telehealth is amazing. Medicaid has approved it – and even for other types of care its great.


  • Gave people until June – what happens afterward? Uncertainty creates anxiety
  • People who receive HASA seem to still be covered so far
  • Develop best practices/tips on how to talk to creditors and landlords – can legal services assist with this
  • Highlight agencies that help with arrears – really important to prepare guidance
  • Update on EFA: Housing program staff and HASA should be on town hall call. 
    • Johanna has been working out the guidance
    • Local agencies will do the bulk of the paperwork
  • Need for money management
  • Easy to fall in a hole financially – and that can make people turn to avoidance rather than deal with it, especially if they don’t feel like they have support
  • One shot deal – write off debt completely – this is available in housing court.
  • Is there a Ryan White Part B program that helps with this issue.

Wellness Issues

Ryan has free legal services.

Antibody tests do not mean people cannot be re-infected. Very little is known about the virus.

Looked into donating platelets as an HIV+ person – questions were very intrusive and stigmatizing.

Agenda Item #5: Town Hall Planning

Invite providers: 

CAMBA, Metroplus, Ryan Health, All RWPA agencies in the EMA will be invited (and asked to share info with clients), need people who are offering wrap around services, VOCAL, (Juwanza, Tatiana)

Medical Provider: Perhaps Ben Tsoi, Bisrat Abraham

HASA – John Rojas/Jackie Dudley


Invite providers who provide wrap around services.

Should invite HASA to a regular consumers meeting.

Need to think about a jurisdictional town hall.

Need to get the training done to facilitate functions of CC

Agreement to put question of approving CAB guidance at the next meeting. 

Agenda Item #7: Public Comment



Town Hall Planning Call

Tuesday, May 12th, 2020 12:00PM – 1:00PM

Attedance: David Klotz, Paul Carr, Lisa Best (Co-chair), Charmaine Graham, Leo Ruiz, Peter Durant, Lawrence Francis, Billy Fields, John Schoepp, Cristina Rodriguez-Hart, Adrian Guzman, David Martin, Guadalupe Dominguez Plummer, Rob Walker, Graham Harriman, Michael Rifkin, Johanna Acosta

Roles and Responsibilities:

Julie Myers will present on Metroplus’s outreach program at 1:50 of the TH

Adrian will do a policy presentation on the NYS plan 1:45pm

Yvonne Katallage, HASA Supervisor, will be on the call

Ben Tsoi, MD  has confirmed attendance on the call for clinical questions

Intro to NYHIV.ORG COVID Resource page tour (very quick)

Melanie will create a run of show

Make sure links from presentation are placed in chat.

All slides will be uploaded

Invite someone from state to speak to issues in hospital (invite sent)

Lisa, Randall and Paul will facilitate town hall (Lisa & Paul will take the lead)


1:00pm            Intro & Welcome: Lisa & Paul

  • Names, pronouns, how you came to this work (very brief(
  • NY HIV Health & Human Services Planning Council is responsible for designating Ryan White Part A funding – this is payer of last resort funding for HIV services – almost everything except medical care – services likes, food support, housing, mental health, etc

The Consumer Committee supports and guides this process and ensures that the needs and concerns of PLWH are being met and addressed.

1:04:                Moment of Silence: Lawrence

1:05pm            Quick Review of COVID-19 Resource Page

1:06pm            Elicit Testimony: All committee members will submit a question to help elicit testimony asap

1:45pm            Policy Update

1:50(ish)         Outreach Info

2:00(ish)         Elicit Testimony

2:30pm            Quick Review of COVID-19 Resource Page

3:00pm            Close

On Monday morning, questions to elicit testimony will be compiled and sent to chairs and consumer at large.


  • Stick to theme – how is COVID impacting PLWH lives. Everything is through telehealth – but helps to discuss what the issues are.
  • Has anyone’s agency sketched out a plan for what the re-opening will look like?
    • Need clarity on privacy concerns
    • Sharing on information with case workers who are at home
    • Security and privacy concerns and protocols
  • Access to social workers is difficult
  • Have disparities and inequities been brought to the fore of people’s minds?
    • Are consumers becoming more engaged due to this awareness?
  • Will telehealth gain a firm hold in a way that is beneficial to consumers
  • HASA needs to respond to some questions 
    • Horror stories about the hotels where people are being placed
    • People think its party time, and are violating social distancing
    • Congregate models with staff and residents that have tested positive, with no social distancing being implemented. 
  • Privacy concerns are valid – members are leery to identify themselves – Dr Myers will discuss some of this.
  • How are we managing trauma – people are really hurting – needs to be addressed.
  • City coroners will exhume remains and get them back to the family