County to hire nurse practitioner for HIV/AIDS program

Marina Riker By Marina Riker

Jan. 8, 2018 at 5:42 p.m.
Updated Jan. 9, 2018 at 6 a.m.

Victoria County commissioners

Victoria County commissioners   Advocate file photos for The Victoria Advocate

People who are HIV-positive could soon have more access to health care in Victoria.

Monday, county commissioners voted to allow the county health department to hire a nurse practitioner for the Victoria County HIV/AIDS Resource Program, which provides support such as medical services, education, testing and case management. Currently, the program's top doctor must travel four hours from South Texas to Victoria to see patients.

"What we're finding is that with (the doctor) traveling from Harlingen, it's actually not enough for the clients we have in Victoria County," said Health Department Director Derrick Neal.

The current medical provider comes to Victoria County once a month to evaluate patients, about 250 of whom get support from the county's HIV/AIDS program. But later this month, patients could have greater access to care because the new nurse practitioner will work about 15 hours per week.

"We want to make sure that we can provide consistent clinical care," said Neal. "And by bringing on a nurse practitioner, we'll be able to achieve that."

The cost to hire the new nurse practitioner would be covered by grants the county receives to help people with HIV or AIDS, said Neal. Additionally, part of the costs could be covered by reimbursements from Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance companies because the county uses a special electronic record-keeping system.

Also Monday, commissioners voted to start the process of expanding and renovating Citizens Medical Center's emergency department with architecture firm Rawley McCoy & Associates.

"The hospital has talked about this project for a while now," said County Judge Ben Zeller.

Under the agreement, the architectural firm would be the construction manager-at-risk and would work with Zeller and a committee on the construction project. That process could take about eight months to one year before the project begins, said Zeller.


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