Planning Council Meeting Minutes March 28, 2024

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Thursday, March 28, 2024

3:00-4:35 PM

By Zoom Videoconference

Members Present: D. Klotz (Governmental Co-chair), D. Martin (Community Co-chair), B. Fields (Finance Officer), R. Babakhanian, K. Banks, R. Brown, P. Carr, V. Decamps, R. Ford, R. Fortunato, M. Gilborn, S. Hemraj, E. Kaywin, M. Lesieur, M. Maia Soares, L. F. Molano, MD, J. Palmer, G. D. Plummer, M. Rodriguez, J. Roman, L. Sabashvili, J. Schoepp, M. Sedlacek, C. Simon, G. Ty, S. Wilcox

Members Absent: S. Altaf, F. Alvelo, M. Bacon, M. Baney, G. Bruckno, M. Caponi, J. Dudley, J. Edwards, J. Goldenbridge, J. Gomez, C. Graham, R. Henderson, J. Henson, B. Hribar, F. Laraque, W. LaRock, N. Martin, H. Martinez, M. Thompson, T. Troia

Staff Present: DOHMH: D. Saab, S. Spiegler, J. Acosta, A. Eppinger-Meiering, S. Kramer, M. Pathak, K. Mack, R. James, M. Dorsheimer

Agenda Item #1: Welcome/Introductions/Minutes

Mr. Klotz and Mr. Martin opened the meeting followed by a roll call and a moment of silence.  The minutes from the February 29, 2024 meeting were approved with no changes.  In honor of Women’s History Month, an ACT-UP PowerPoint on women in the fight against HIV was shown.

Agenda Item #2: Recipient Report

Ms. Eppinger-Meiering reported news from HRSA and other federal agencies, including commemorating National Women and Girls and Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Days.  The federal FY 2024 budget was finalized, with Ryan White appropriations mostly flat funded.  There was a report on data recently released at the annual Conference on Retrovirus and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) on the efficacy of long-acting injectable ART.  Registration is open for the National Ryan White Conference in August.  Virtual attendance is unlimited. 

On March 14th, Public Health Solutions, on behalf of NYC DOHMH, released the concept paper for the forthcoming RFPs for Behavioral Health and Non-medical Case Management/ Inmates & Releasees.  A timeline of the RFP was reported, with programs to start March 1, 2025.  TheRecipient also released an updated RWPA Referral Directory, which will be posted on the Council website and includes newly funded Housing programs.  The Quality Management (QM) Committee for the NY EMA continues to meet to discuss updates and feedback on subrecipient quality management trainings.  The QM Program is also collaborating with the Consumers Committee to deliver a consumer-led session on client advisory boards (CABs) at the 2024 RWPA Provider Meeting on July 16th.  Planning for that meeting is underway.  Along with CABs, topics will include using eSHARE data to improve service delivery, resources for immigrants and migrants, and engaging consumers in various methods of collaboration to provide feedback on service delivery and quality improvement. 

In February and March 2024, a collaborative DOHMH-CUNY study team hosted two half-day community participatory “Developing Information Sharing Standards through Community” (DISCO) events.  DISCO is a supplemental grant attached to the ongoing “Data-to-Suppression” (D2S) project, which offers reporting and capacity-building resources to promote viral suppression in RWPA housing and behavioral health programs.

Other policy news was reported, including about an initiative to advocate to repeal laws that criminalize HIV transmission, and a NY State application to expand income eligibility for the NYS Essential Health Plan.

In response to a comment from Mr. Hemraj, Mr. Lesieur noted that the Joint Policy Committee can look into the issue of discrimination against PWH by life insurance companies.

Agenda Item #3: Needs Assessment Committee Recommendations on Improving Access to Care for New Arrivals

Mr. Klotz noted that the Needs Assessment Committee (NAC) has started working through the emerging issues identified in the Comprehensive Needs Assessment and has completed the first, developing a set of recommendations to improve access to care and support services for immigrants/migrants/newly arrived PWH in the EMA.

Mx. Kaywin gave an overview and context for the recommendations, including the NAC’s role selecting topics to investigate through quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis.  The EMA’s 2023 Comprehensive Needs Assessment included a wide range of data and recommendations, as well as additional topics for future research in a “parking lot” of emerging issues. Such as people of trans experience, people involved in sex work, and HIV workforce challenges.  The first topic to be completed looks at newly arrived PWH (migrants, asylum seekers, and immigrants generally).  Since Spring 2022, there have been more than 180,000 newly arrived immigrants entering the City shelter sites, mostly from Spanish-speaking countries, but also many from African, Asian and Caribbean countries.  Many have experienced trauma and are in need of extensive support.  From October 2023 to January 2024, NAC received a series of presentations and reports to inform the development of recommendations for improved and enhanced service delivery for HIV-positive newly arrived immigrants who seek care in the Ryan White Part A (RWPA) system.  Broad themes and goals were developed and recommendations for each goal.  A summary of the themes, goals and recommendations follows:

Theme #1: Language Barriers. Goal: Strengthen RWPA provider capacity to provide high-quality, diverse easy to access and linguistically affirming language written or oral interpretation and translation services in the languages spoken by newly arrived immigrants being served in the NY EMA.  Recommendations: assess and enhance provider capacity to provide interpretation and translation language services; provide resources and guidance to sub-recipients for staff trainings that address the cultural and linguistic needs specific to immigrant communities.  Theme #2: Service Demand Increase/Navigation Challenges.  Goal: help RWPA providers accommodate and manage the increase in service needs of newly arrived clients.  Recommendations: RWPA providers improve and expand upon existing case management services that focus on immigrant communities; Recipient should regularly identify providers that have a focus on immigrant services who have the capacity to receive client referrals to mitigate high client volume.  Theme #3: Mental Health Concerns for Clients.  Goal: address the mental health concerns and the high level of trauma among newly arrived clients.  Recommendations: providers should train their staff on understanding the specific behavioral and mental health needs of newly arrived immigrant clients using a trauma-informed approach; the Recipient should develop a list of crisis intervention providers.  Theme #4: Mental Health/Staff.  Goal: build staff and peer worker resiliency, support, and organizational capacity to enhance emotional and psychological wellness in the workplace.  Recommendation: providers should develop and implement wellness models, self-care plans and mental health toolkit for staff and peer workers needing support.  Theme #5: LGBTQ+ Asylum Seekers.  Goal: provide the guidance and resources to help providers with treating LGBTQ+ clients with sensitivity and competence.  Recommendations: providers should provide educational orientation to all staff and peer workers to improve LGBTQ+ competency (including SOGI training); RWPA providers should offer relatable materials, guidelines and resources on LGBTQ+ affirming services.  Theme #6: Stakeholder and Community Engagement.  Goal: build the capacity of RWPA providers to navigate the evolving policy and service system as it relates to immigrant health and social services access.  Recommendation: the Recipient should provide information about changes to the immigration policy and protections, and the health care and social support service landscape to RWPA providers to maximize service provision and referrals.

Ms. Saab acknowledged the contributors to these recommendations, including the NAC members and co-chairs, the Council and Recipient staff and outside presenters who contributed.  The Council commended the NAC, Mx. Kaywin and Ms. Thompson and Ms. Saab for the excellent work on this important issue.

A summary of the ensuing discussion follows:

  • There is a need for screening for STIs and other infection diseases (e.g., TB) for new arrivals.
  • Stigma is an issue for LGBTQ+ arrivals who may have higher risk for infection once they are in the US.
  • There is a lack of coordination between agencies and scare resources to ensure that new arrivals have the comprehensive and integrated health and support services that they may need.
  • Challenges with language access could be addressed by peers who speak the diverse languages spoken by new arrivals, especially ones that are not commonly spoken.  Language apps like Google Translate are also very useful.
  • While no Tri-County providers presented to the NAC, the recommendations are for the entire EMA.  When they are presented to the Tri-County Steering Committee, there will be opportunities for feedback about immigrant/migrant issues in the region.

Agenda Item #4: Committee Updates

Consumers Committee

Mr. Babakhanian reported that the CC provided feedback to the Quality Management Program on a survey to be conducted of all RWPA providers to assess their use of client advisory boards (CABs) and other methods for obtaining client input for program improvement.  The CC began updating its CAB Best Practices Guidelines in advance of a workshop that the Committee will facilitate at the July annual provider meeting for all RWPA sub-recipients.  Mr. Maia added that the Committee is raising the issue of CABs to ensure that providers do not miss a critical opportunity for meaningful client input.

In response to a question from Mr. Martin, Mr. Klotz explained that no formal response was received to the Committee’s letter to the director of the NYC Office of Management and Budget about approving grant-funded other than personnel expenses, but that the spending freeze has been lifted and there is some movement, including with the Council’s website vendor. 

Needs Assessment Committee

Mx. Kaywin reported that after completing the work presented today, the NAC is in the process of considering the next topic to focus on from the list of emerging issues in the Comprehensive Needs Assessment.

Integration of Care Committee

Mr. Hemraj reported that the IOC continued its work on a revised directive for Early Intervention Services for new programs that will be rebid for 2025.  At last week’s IOC meeting, the Committee reviewed the service goals and the objectives in the 2022-26 Integrated Plan.  IOC also began working through issues that will inform the revised service model. 

Priority Setting and Resource Allocation

Ms. Gilborn reported that the PSRA Committee approved the GY 2024 reprogramming plan, which will be presented for approval to the Executive Committee and full Council in April.  PSRA also received a presentation from the NYS DOH AIDS Institute Uninsured Care Program on their use of NY EMA RWPA funds. 

Tri-County Steering Committee

Mr. Palmer reported that the TCSC had a presentation of the annual HIV Surveillance Report from the AIDS Institute.  They also reviewed the 3rd quarter expenditure report for Tri-County programs.  The NAC recommendations will be presented at the next meeting.  Later in the spring, the TCSC will review data on Housing services to help inform the GY 2025 spending plan.

Joint HPG/Council Policy Committee

Mr. Lesieur reported that the JPC reviewed federal appropriations and worked on an advocacy letter regarding emergency wheelchair repair.  The Committee also drafted an advocacy letter on the City’s asylum seeker response efforts and reviewed a letter on NYS “HASA for All” legislation. 

Rules & Membership Committee

Dr. Molano reported that the RMC will resume meeting in the spring to conduct the annual membership recruitment and application process.

Mr. Klotz reported that the Council’s Community Outreach Coordinator, Jose Colon-Berdecia, is retiring.  The position has been posted on the NYC jobs portal and will be sent out to the Council and public.  Council members are encouraged to help spread the word about the Council applications in the spring.  Also, a candidate has been named for the open Community Planner position and interviews are underway for the open Deputy Director position. 

Mr. Babakhanian added that the Consumers Committee is working to update the Council’s outreach materials to enhance the ability to reach consumers and recruit potential members.

Agenda Item #5: Public Comment

Mr. Maia expressed his concern about the seeming disappearance of condoms in gay bars that have been distributed by DOHMH.  Ms. Pathak will contact the condom distribution program and report back to the Council. There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned.