“I learned during college that my passion was in direct patient care. I decided to pursue nursing and entered the Family Nurse Practitioner program at Ohio State University. My last clinical rotation was with Equitas Health, formerly AIDS Resource Center Ohio. It was then that I realized this was the patient population I wanted to work with.
One of the first things that stood out to me about Equitas Health was the compassion and dedication that every staff member had for their patients. The care they provided was genuine and everyone went above and beyond. This was something I wanted to be a part of. It was also an inclusive environment where people felt they could be themselves without fear of rejection or judgment.
I was also drawn to the patient population we serve. At Equitas Health, we provide care to underserved populations, many of which did not previously have access to care for a number of different reasons—ranging from lack of resources to fear of visiting a healthcare provider and sharing personal information. Here at Equitas Health, we have created a safe environment to receive healthcare services.
What sets the providers at Equitas Health apart is our commitment to providing evidenced based, patient-centered care that, meets each person where they are in their own health journey. Furthermore, our providers operate in a medical home model, meaning our patients receive holistic care. We have onsite pharmacy services, behavioral health, and medical case management. All these disciplines work together as a team to develop a comprehensive care plan. Equitas Health is a special and unique place to work and I am proud of the care we provide.”
Cultural competency is a continuous learning process that builds knowledge, awareness, skills, and capacity to identify, understand, and respect the unique beliefs, values, customs, languages, abilities, and traditions of all people in order to provide effective programs and services.
One of Equitas Health’s Institute for LGBTQ Health Equity goals is to increase cultural competency for organizations that interact with the LGBTQ community through education. The Institute is working with organizations like Nationwide Children’s Hospital and Dayton Montgomery Public Health to provide trainings to increase the organization’s LGBTQ cultural competency.
The need to increase the cultural competency of companies and organizations across the state is clear. We are also committed to continuously improving cultural competency within our own organization. The Institute has prioritized trainings that focus on teaching best practices for creating an environment that is safe and inclusive for everyone at all 13 Equitas Health offices across the state. In addition to these staff trainings, we also have a Cultural Competency Committee that meets every other month to discuss issues and routinely shares information with our staff.
As we know, many of our clients and patients have had negative experiences in other health care settings. For many, our offices and medical centers might be their last attempt to seek out care. These trainings are just one of the many ways we work to ensure our patients and clients feel welcomed and validated during their entire experience, from the front desk staff, to our nurse practitioners, to our medical social workers.
In partnership with Columbus Public Health, the program was designed as a harm reduction model to reduce the negative consequences of drug use, reduce the overall level of drug consumption, help prevent new HIV and other blood-borne infections, and link participants to recovery programs.
On the first day of Safe Point, only one person came but he proved to be a very important person. Joseph, a 41 year old, HIV positive straight male, learned about the Safe Point program through his nurse practitioner at Equitas Health. Joseph has lived on both sides of the coin, at one time climbing the corporate ladder, only later to find himself homeless. He’s since secured stable housing and continues to participate in Safe Point to get clean syringes. He’s also become a community ambassador for the program; spreading the word about the program wherever he goes. Joseph notes that what makes Safe Point different is how courteous and compassionate the staff and volunteers are. He said they understand that everyone is in a different place in their recovery and that they provide what a person needs most at that moment; whether it’s someone to talk to or referral to treatment.
In September 2016, we launched additional programming in partnership at Southeast Inc. in Franklinton. Columbus City Council approved additional funding to provide naloxone, an overdose reversal drug, to people who don’t have insurance or can’t afford it through our Pharmacy. In November, one of generous donors, Tom Davis, matched Columbus Public Health’s and City Council’s funding to provide an additional 400 doses of naloxone.
In our first year, Safe Point:
- saw 1,345 individual people
- disposed of 51,454 used syringes
- gave out 2,814 personal sharps containers
- distributed 495 doses of naloxone
- saved 140 lives using naloxone
- provided referrals for 104 HIV/Hepatitis C tests, 589 alcohol & other drug consults, 183 behavioral health appointments, and 177 primary care appointments.
In 2017, we will continue to work closely with a coalition of stakeholders to share information and develop a coordinated response to changes in the opiate epidemic. We will also launch a third location for the Safe Point program in the King-Lincoln district this spring.
Our medical social workers in our Lima, Toledo, Mansfield, Akron, Canton, and Portsmouth offices enrolled or re-enrolled 100% of eligible clients in health care coverage through the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Across the state we collectively enrolled 96% of eligible clients, totaling 529 people. Despite the many challenges this year, our medical social workers have done a great job helping our clients navigate the enrollment system. Many clients had to switch plans to have medications covered and others had to switch providers. Throughout this process our staff were prepared to provide assistance when needed and continue to stay up-to-date on possible changes to the ACA. In the meantime, we continue to encourage our clients to use their coverage as they normally would and will keep them informed of any changes.
Daphne Saneholtz has joined Equitas Health as our new Chief Public Policy & Government Affairs Officer.
The healthcare and political landscape will be rapidly changing under the new administration. Daphne’s work will focus on sharpening and moving forward our public policy agenda on key issues at both the federal and state levels, including healthcare and equality.
“It’s a very different world, politically, than it was a year ago,” states Bill Hardy, Equitas Health President & CEO. “There is a profound sense of uncertainty within the healthcare and human services sectors. We’ve got to step up our game to ensure that we don’t lose important progress made in the last administration.”
We don’t completely know what new issues will emerge, but policy priorities will surely include retaining and expanding current funding for services, protecting Medicaid and key components of the Affordable Care Act, the 340B pharmacy program, and funding for Community Health Centers and other safety net providers, including Equitas Health.
Daphne will work with the board, organizational leadership, and volunteers to craft a comprehensive policy and advocacy agenda, and she is uniquely qualified to do so. Her legal practice has focused on healthcare, including the nexus between traditional healthcare legal services and healthcare public policy. She has advised clients regarding business and practice strategies impacted by federal and state healthcare reform initiatives, service delivery, reimbursement, and payment reform. Additionally, she has held positions at the Ohio Department of Medicaid, including leading Ohio Medicaid’s interaction with the centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services; and served as director of government relations for Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus.
When asked about her reason for joining Equitas Health she noted, “I admire the organization’s commitment to expanding services to meet the needs of our communities across Ohio and the mission and strategy that keeps the organization relevant and sustainable.”
“We are looking forward to having someone of Daphne’s caliber leading this increasingly significant line of work for Equitas Health. Under Daphne’s leadership we will work to ensure that we stay at the forefront of our policy priorities in Washington and at the statehouse so that we can continue to move our mission and work forward,” says Hardy.
Now is the time to register for AIDS Walk Ohio, happening in Central Ohio on April 15, Greater Dayton on April 22, and Greater Toledo on April 29th. Become a Grand Walker for a chance to win a 9 day/8 night trip for two to Hawaii. Or stay home and become a virtual walker for $20. Learn more.
The John Glenn School of Public Affairs held their annual Glenn Gala and selected our Safe Point program as the beneficiary of their raffle proceeds. Safe Point Outreach Specialist, Ecenur “Edge” Kahriman, gave remarks on the status of the opiate crisis in Columbus and the impact of Safe Point on the community.
Old Scratch Pizza in Dayton selected Equitas Health as their January Cones for a Cause recipient and raised over $1,000. We thank them for their support.
February 18 | Ada, OH
Attend this comedic drag performance benefitting Equitas Health.
February 23 | Columbus
Come and enjoy the music and stories of David Bowie and Prince during ShadowboxLive’s Give Back Night where they’ll be donating $12.50 of every adult ticket sale to support our Safe Point program. Make sure to mention Equitas Health when making the reservation.
February 25 | 10pm | Mansfield
Help raise funds for our Mansfield office’s housing and nutritional needs by attending Sami’s Red Party. This event includes a drag show, 50/50 raffle, and silent auction. Cover is $5.
February 21 | 1-4pm | Athens
March 1 | 6-8pm | Cleveland
Trained attorneys will provide one-on-one counseling about the gender- and name-changing process. Registration is preferred, but walk-ins are welcome. To register, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (614) 340-6729.
March 3 | Dayton
This event will help medical professionals and students develop skill and confidence working with gender diverse populations.Cost: Professional | $60 Students with a valid ID | $10. CEUs and scholarships are available. Presented by Equitas Health Institute for LGBTQ Health Equity in partnership with Ellis Human Development Institute at Wright State University.
March 4 | 10-1pm | Columbus
Presented by TransOhio and Equitas Health, this job fair includes workshops on resume writing, job interviewing , mock interview practice, networking and resume reviews by professionals and tips on professional development and job seeking.