Tri-County Steering Committee Minutes February 10, 2021



February 10, 2021, 10:05-11:30am

By Zoom Videoconference


Members Present:       M. Diaz (Co-chair), A. Straus (Co-chair), S. Altaf, V. Alvarez, L. Best, D. Dominguez, J. Gago, L. Hakim, G. Harriman, C. Oldi, J. Palmer, M. Piazza, G. Plummer, L. Reid, S. Richmond, A. Ruggiero, K. Scott, A. Simmons, S. Thomas

Members Absent:        D. Ahmed, M. Acevedo, L. Bucknor, A. Contreras, M. G. Ferone, A. Hardman, P. Laqueur, K. Mandel, A. Pizarro, S. Sanchez, D. Scholar, T. Seabrook, D. Smith

Staff:                           NYC DOHMH: D. Klotz, J. Acosta, J. Colón-Berdecía, K. Mack, D. Ferdinand; Public Health Solutions: A. Feduzi, D. Ortiz; CHAIN: D. Norman

Agenda Item 1: Opening/Moment of Silence/Minutes/Announcements

Ms. Straus and Ms. Diaz opened the meeting followed by introductions and a moment of silence.  The minutes of the January 13, 2021 meeting were approved with no changes.  

Mr. Altaf announced that the legal merger of Hudson Valley Community Services (HVSC) and Cornerstone Family Health Center (a FQHC) is effective March 1st.  All HVCS staff and services will remain in place, and additional services will be available through Cornerstone, including primary care.  

In conjunction with the merger, Ms. Straus is retiring and that this month’s meetings will be her last meeting as co-chair of the Committee and member of the Planning Council at the end of this month.  Mr. Harriman announced that Mr. Altaf will become co-chair effective March 1st

Staff and Committee members paid tribute to Ms. Straus for her unwavering commitment over many years to the Tri-County community, particularly people with HIV.  She was thanked for her leadership, support and advocacy at HVCS and in the Tri-County Steering Committee and Planning Council.  Ms. Straus thanked the Committee members and staff for their support and encouraged everyone to continue the fight against HIV.

Agenda Item #2: Updates

Consumer Update

Ms. Diaz reported that consumers in Tri-County are doing well in spite of the challenges of physical isolation.  Many have begun to receive COVID vaccinations and are looking forward to the day when they can see people in person.  Mr. Alvarez reported that consumers have been discussing their post-pandemic goals.  He also thanked Ms. Straus for her support and for truly listening to consumers’ voices.  He acknowledged that some Living Together members have concerns about the transition, but is confident that the group will continue to be strong.

Planning Council Update

Mr. Klotz reported that the Planning Council’s Priority Setting & Resource Allocation Committee met on Monday and approved a spending scenario plan for FY 2021 (March 1, 2021-February 28, 2022).  PSRA approved the Tri-County Steering Committee’s request to hold all current programs harmless from cuts and to enhance Tri-County Housing programs by an additional $160,000.  The enhancement to the Emergency Financial Assistance program made in FY 2020 to include NYC residents in the program will continue at the same level.  All enhancements (including for NYC Housing programs), as well as any potential reductions to the overall award will be covered by a reduction to the ADAP allocation, which the AIDS Institute has said can be absorbed without any change in service levels.  A portion of any ADAP reduction can be restored during the year through carry-over and reprogramming. 

Mr. Harriman reported that the full Council reviewed the Ending the HIV Epidemic plan, which covers the federal grant for Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan.  The plan will inform the next EMA-wide Integrated HIV Prevention and Care Plan.  A final vote on concurrence with the plan will take place at the Council’s February 25th meeting, along with a vote on the FY 2021 spending scenario. The Consumers Committee is continuing its work on HIV and Aging and is planning for a public forum in the spring on the issue.  On Thursday, the Needs Assessment Committee is hosting a virtual forum on needs of PWH with serious mental illness.  There will be participants from State and City agencies and representatives across funding streams about how to enhance services for this population.  The Integration of Care Committee is continuing its work to revise the master service directive and will next address developing elements to address anti-racism and stigma. 

Recipient (Grantee) Report

Ms. Plummer reported that the US HHS released a National Strategic Plan to Eliminate Viral Hepatitis as a Public Health Threat.  HHS hosted a stakeholder webinar on federal Ending the HIV Epidemic (EHE) implementation on January 27th.  The 2020 RW Conference workshop videos are posted on the website.

Partial Part A awards were announced, with EMAs receiving 34% of the previous year’s formula award and 22% of the MAI award.  The full award will come later this year.  The DOHMH Division of Disease Control executed a new master contract that includes administration of the RWPA sub-contracts, awarded to Public Health Solutions for 9 years.  The PSS TINCNB concept paper was released to be followed by a town hall.  The RFP will be released on Feb. 3rd, followed by a pre-proposal conference on Feb. 17th.  

Dr. Anisha Gandhi has returned to her role as BHIV Director of Racial Equity, and Dr. Sarah Braunstein is the new Acting Assistant Commissioner of HIV.  She has been with BHIV for over 10 years as Director of HIV Epidemiology.  BHIV’s COTA unit has funded three organizations under the RFP “Building Equity: Intervening Together for Health” (Be: Into Health), which will implement interventions for priority Black and/or Hispanic populations (youth, women, over 50, MSM). 

Ms. Acosta reported that she is conducting end-of-year meetings with the Tri-County Part A providers to help them prepare for the new fiscal year, with an emphasis on meeting program goals and overcoming barriers to service provision.

Ms. Plummer thanked Ms. Acosta for her outstanding work over the year, having started just before the pandemic and providing effective support to programs in a time of great challenges.

Agenda Item #3: Planning Council and Committee Direction and Work Plan

Mr. Harriman presented a work plan for committees, the Council as a whole, and Council staff.  The work will take several years and is meant to make the Council and its committees more responsive and flexible.  The key elements are:

1) Accommodate work to the COVID-19 pandemic: Build flexibility into timelines, Awareness of ICS (DOHMH COVID response) burden, Awareness of mental health burden; Holding the care of PWH central to our work during the pandemic. 

2) Promoting an anti-racist and stigma-free care environment and incorporating the voices of marginalized populations: Build capacity of staff (Council & Grantee) and Council and committee members to embed anti-racism and anti-stigma practices and policies into planning work; Strengthen internal and external partnerships across DOHMH, Ryan White providers, and Consumers to ensure an effective approach to implementing health equity work; Incorporate the voices of marginalized populations.

3) Improve data collection and use of data within Ryan White Part A and across bureaus and funders: Review and make recommendations on data collection burden; Reduce data collection burden on providers and consumers; Improve use of data to identify and support those with the most need.

4) Incorporate implementation science and evidence-informed practices is the responsibility of committees that assess needs, develop service directives and do allocations (Needs Assessment, IOC, PSRA, Tri-County Steering Committee): Build capacity to apply a health equity lens throughout all Council work to better address stigma, racism and social determinants of health; In partnership with the grantee, contract an implementation science specialist to train Council and grantee staff and guide our work.

5) Strengthen quality management work (NAC, IOC, Consumers and TCSC): Encourage staff and Council member attendance at NY EMA Quality Improvement meetings; Request regular Quality Management program presentations to the Council; Support innovative means of collecting data on consumer experience; Develop partnerships external to the Ryan White program.

6) Advocacy for systemic changes that can benefit, protect and improve the health and health outcomes of PWH should be a focus of NAC, IOC, Consumers and TCSC. 

7) Collaboration across prevention and care to implement a status neutral continuum of care. 

8) A more robust assessment of the administrative mechanism (how well the Grantee is implementing the Council’s priorities).  Council staff has begun collecting survey instruments from other EMAs. 

Mr. Harriman also reviewed the full Council’s rolling agenda for the year, encouraging Committee members to join for presentations on Quality Management, the RWPA budget, and data collection.

Agenda Item #4: Public Comment  

Ms. Ruggiero announced that Open Door Family Medical Center’s Project Hope is offering crisis counseling and linkage to services to anyone facing COVID-related issues.

Mr. Palmer announced that the Governor’s Medicaid Redesign Team is closer to making a decision about the 340B program and encouraged everyone to submit comments at

Ms. Acosta encouraged people to make referrals to the RWPA Emergency Financial Assistance and Mental Health programs in Tri-County.  Mr. Altaf added that HVCS is conducting outreach for the EFA program and can expand its efforts.

The next Committee meeting will be held by Zoom on Wed., March 10th, 10am with an update from Wendy Patterson of the AIDS Institute on Tri-County HIV epidemiology and surveillance.

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned.