New Management at Norfolk, Va., Ryan White CARE Act Program Attempt To Eliminate Past Failures To Spend Funds
The appointment of a new director and management council for a Norfolk, Va., program that manages Ryan White CARE Act funds in the region has "raised hopes" that the program is improving, the Virginian-Pilot reports (Hardy, Virginian-Pilot, 5/10). Norfolk officials in the past have been sharply criticized for their management of Ryan White funds. Officials failed to spend $1 million of the program's $5 million Ryan While grant for fiscal year 2003, despite the fact that 900 eligible HIV-positive individuals did not receive care during the fiscal year. The Health Resources and Services Administration -- the federal agency that administers Ryan White funds -- sent a team of consultants to help Norfolk officials revamp the program, which is responsible for serving more than 2,100 uninsured HIV-positive people in the area. HRSA in October 2003 also refused to approve a contract with a local pharmacy to provide antiretroviral drugs to HIV-positive individuals who are eligible for the program. In addition, a contract dispute between Norfolk officials and clinic doctors regarding billing practices in 2004 resulted in the revocation of some clinics' Ryan White funds. Eastern Virginia Medical School clinics also used a billing method in which doctors received a set fee for each patient, a practice that is reportedly not allowed under federal government regulations. As a result, the clinics had to cease operations (Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report, 3/18/04).
Norfolk Assistant City Manager LaVerne Parker Diggs took over management of the program in 2004 and "spearheaded" an effort to give oversight duties of the program to a management council made up of volunteers, according to the Virginian-Pilot. Christine Carroll, former manager of the Ryan White program in West Palm Beach, Fla., earlier this year was hired to run Norfolk's program. Edward Oldfield III, director of EVMS' infectious diseases division, said that Carroll "has been a breath of fresh air," adding, "She has one agenda: to provide the highest quality of care for people. She wants it to be a seamless process, and she will find a way to make it work." Carroll has spent much of her time meeting with key stakeholders in the program, according to the Virginian-Pilot. "I hope the tension from the past is lifting," Carroll said, adding, "I've been trying to reassure the providers that the doors of communication are open" (Virginian-Pilot, 5/10).