Inefficiencies in New York City AIDS Services and Funding ‘Threaten’ Patient Treatment, Services, Study Says
Funding delays and "red tape" have led to staff cutbacks and treatment disruption for HIV-positive people in New York City, according to a report released today by the Center for an Urban Future, Long Island Newsday reports. The not-for-profit, Manhattan-based research group studied more than 60 HIV/AIDS service providers, government and private funding sources, health experts and consultants over a six-month period and found that while community groups receive $300 million annually, the disbursement of funding is often delayed by three to 12 months. The report, titled "Epidemic Neglect: How Weak Infrastructure and Lax Planning Hinder New York City's Response to AIDS," describes the impact that such funding delays and poor service infrastructure have had on the delivery of services for HIV-positive New Yorkers (Ramirez, Long Island Newsday, 2/24). The report explores the development of AIDS services in the city, noting that the "crisis environment" surrounding the initial outbreak of the epidemic led to the formation of fragmented organizations that lacked sufficient infrastructures. This fragmentation and inefficiency was compounded by "provisions of government contracts" that burdened organizations with "onerous bureaucratic requirements," which taxed the organizations' administrative capacities (Hantman, "Epidemic Neglect" report text, 2/24). Further, the ability of organizations to run efficiently has been hurt by delays in the disbursement of funding at the federal, state and city levels. The report states that the city health department was late in paying 97% of its 2001 contracts. These delays and inefficiencies are having a "devastating impact" on AIDS services in the city, according to Divine Pryor, executive director of the Association for Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment. "Executive directors are distracted chasing checks or doing the work of absent administrators," Julie Hantman, a senior fellow for AIDS research at the Center for an Urban Future, said, adding, "Some AIDS housing money sits unused because the contracts are so onerous, nobody has the staff to process them. So there's waste, there's stagnancy, and things will likely get worse unless there's some fix not only for the infrastructure, but for citywide planning also" (Long Island Newsday, 2/24). The report concludes that the city should solve the contract delay problem, establish citywide planning efforts and streamline the application process so as not to tax organizations' administrative capacities. The report also recommends that organizations streamline their services and seek additional sources of private funding ("Epidemic Neglect" report text, 2/24).
Long Island AIDS Agency Accused of Misuse of Funds
Joseph Gerraputa, former CFO of the Long Island Association for AIDS Care, on Friday testified before the New York Supreme Court that he believes the association "misled donors" by using most of its fundraising money to pay for administrative costs instead of client services, Long Island Newsday reports. Gerraputa's testimony is being used by the defense in the libel trial of former AIDS Care fundraiser Susan Greene, who is being sued by the association for comments she made in a 1996 Newsday article. In the article, Greene said she felt "violated" after discovering that the percentage of the money actually spent on client services was much less than that spent on employee salaries and administrative costs. Gerraputa testified that, despite promises found in the agency's solicitations, only 3% of the money raised was used for client services and education, adding that he resigned from the company in 1995 in part over disillusionment with the agency's finances. AIDS Care attorney Jason Abelove questioned the validity of Gerraputa's statements, saying that defense was attempting to use his testimony to deflect attention from Greene's "libelous" behavior. AIDS Care attorneys are expected to cross-examine Gerraputa on Monday (Sinco Kelleher, Long Island Newsday, 2/23).