Tardy Grant Application Results in Funding Cut for Michigan’s Largest AIDS Clinic
The Wayne State University-Detroit Medical Center, home of Michigan's largest AIDS clinic, will receive a cut in federal funding for its HIV/AIDS program because it failed to turn in its grant application on time to the Detroit Health Department, the Detroit Free Press reports. Because "computer problems" caused the clinic to turn in its application for federal funding 55 minutes late, the program will not receive any of the $280,000 grant it has received in years past. Launched in 1985, the HIV/AIDS clinic serves 1,500 patients and has a staff of "internationally recognized physicians who advise U.S., Canadian and African doctors" on treatment for patients who have developed resistance to certain antiretroviral drugs. However, if DMC officials fail to obtain emergency grants and other funding to fill the gap left by the cut, "hard times and layoffs loom" for the clinic, the Free Press reports (Anstett, Detroit Free Press, 4/30). Dr. Jack Sobel, chief of infectious diseases at Wayne State and head of the clinic, said, "For us to be punished is ... absolutely cruel. It is a vindictive act. It victimizes us and the poor people we serve. Where are their priorities? Is the only thing that's important to them being on time?" (Associated Press, 4/30). "Friction is building" as DMC officials try to contact the health department and Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer, who is listed as the CEO overseeing Detroit's federally funded AIDS program. Emily Nadeau, administrator of the HIV/AIDS program at the Detroit Health Department, said that DMC administrators were repeatedly told that late applications "would not be accepted this year," even though they have been in previous years. She also pointed out that the clinic has failed to use all of its federal funding in the past, that only 9% of its patients qualify for the funds and that seven other local programs "do some of the same work" that the DMC clinic provides. Nadeau added that although two other programs turned in late applications, they will receive funding because "no one else provides the care they do for women and children" (Detroit Free Press, 4/30).
Free Press Weighs In
Although "there was no excuse for tardiness" on the part of the DMC, the health department "should have cut one of Michigan's leading AIDS programs some slack," as "55 minutes late isn't sufficient cause to deny money to a well-run AIDS program in a city devastated by the disease," a Detroit Free Press editorial states. The editorial adds that the city government is "not always a model of efficiency," citing DMC administrators who say that "the city is 30 months behind in paying some of their medical staff." Noting that "Detroit's neediest citizens will take the hit" for the funding cut, the editorial concludes that if the health department "wanted to send a message that tardiness will no longer be tolerated, some kind of penalty would have done it. Pulling the entire grant is excessive punishment" (Detroit Free Press, 5/1).