BY Michelle Garcia
February 17 2010 7:55 PM ET
Fornataro, the director of Housing Works’s AIDS Treatment Data Network, a group that connects HIV-positive people with treatment and support, says his organization is not equipped to handle the thousands of St. Vincent’s patients who will most likely turn to Housing Works if the hospital closes.
St. Vincent’s was one of the first hospitals in the nation to open its doors, without hostility, to people with HIV, says Marjorie Hill, executive director of Gay Men’s Health Crisis. She called the potential closing of the hospital a “public health and social justice travesty,” especially because this will force thousands of regular patients to find new modes of health care. Hill cites research showing that people changing providers tend to interrupt their health care regimen. “A lot of the time, people don’t go to their new doctor until they are sick,” she says. “So if someone with HIV waits, they might show up to their doctor with full-blown AIDS.”
The clock on the hospital is now ticking down. The loan from the state will go to pay employees, and, as of press time, the hospital’s last option is to be purchased by Continuum Health Partners, the network of hospitals that proposed a takeover in February.