Parkland HIV Transitional Care Project reduces readmissions

Posted on 08 Feb 2017 at 9:24am

The use of combination anti-viral drugs has led to successful treatment and care of those who have HIV and AIDS, to the point where many individuals are able to live relatively healthy lives with normal lifespans.

But that success depends greatly on strict adherence to a sometimes complex medication and follow-up care regimen, something that not all HIV patients can attain. In fact, hospitalized HIV patients are among those with the highest readmission rates, meaning they are readmitted into the hospital within 30 days of discharge. Healthcare experts say various medical and social factors account for that high rate.

An innovative project at Parkland Health & Hospital System that focuses on both the inpatient and outpatient care of HIV patients has led to significant reductions, as much as 40 percent, in the rate of readmissions. Parkland’s HIV Transitional Care Project, a three-year effort that began in fiscal year 2014, uses a multidisciplinary team of HIV specialists that includes physicians, mid-level providers such as nurse practitioners or physician assistants, transition nurses, pharmacists and social workers to care for and instruct inpatients to help them make the transition to outpatient care.

“HIV patients need to have specialty care and they need far more coordinated care, not just for medical issues but also social needs,” said Ank Nijhawan, MD, one of the HIV specialists involved with the Parkland project. Dr. Nijhawan also is an Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine at UT Southwestern Medical Center. “For HIV inpatients, that kind of care is vital. But some patients, for whatever reason, do not follow up with their medication or plan of care, and that leads to them being hospitalized again or even dying. We have patients, many in their 20s and 30s, who still die from this disease.”

According to John Raish, Parkland’s Vice President of Transformational Initiatives, the HIV Transitional Care Project is one of the system’s 1115 waiver projects that provide state funding for uncompensated care and for programs that increase healthcare access to underserved populations.

“We feel the HIV Project has been a great success and is a great example of why the 1115 Waiver programs are crucial for improving healthcare in Texas. We have actually far exceeded our goals in terms of number of patients served,” Raish said. “Realistically, we have reduced the number of HIV patients we would have expected to readmit by about 40 percent.”

The HIV Transitional Care Project is important, Dr. Nijhawan added, because of the great difference medicines can make in a patient’s life. Medication can often effectively lower a patient’s viral load (the amount of HIV in the blood) to levels that cannot be detected by most common testing. While the person is still infected with HIV, their risk of developing a serious opportunistic infection is greatly reduced.

Mamta Jain, MD, who also works on the Parkland HIV Project and is an Associate Professor of Internal Medicine at UT Southwestern, said readmissions had been high at Parkland because of the vulnerable populations that the hospital system treats. “Through this waiver project, Parkland was able to hire the dedicated staff who can make a difference in those HIV readmissions.”

Dr. Nijhawan previously worked on an HIV readmissions study that showed HIV patients had readmission rates of about 25 percent, higher than other diseases such as heart disease and pneumonia. The study, conducted in conjunction with the Parkland Center for Clinical Innovation (PCCI), was published in 2012 in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.

The study confirmed that in addition to medical issues, such as the severity of opportunistic infections and access to medicines, social factors such as housing instability, lack of insurance, distance to healthcare facilities and poverty contributed to readmission rates.

As a result of the HIV Project, Dr. Nijhawan said, many HIV patients are enjoying a better quality of life.

“Many of our patients have spoken about the great improvements they’ve experienced. They’ve had fewer illnesses and are able to live more normal lives,” Dr. Nijhawan said.


Here’s the letter Mitch McConnell wouldn’t let Sen. Elizabeth Warren read about Jeff Sessions

Posted on 07 Feb 2017 at 10:44pm

Sen. Elizabeth Warren

The U.S. Senate is holding confirmation hearings tonight (Tuesday, Feb. 7) on Sen. Jeff Sessions, nominated by Donald Trump to be U.S. attorney general.

This is the same Jeff Sessions who was nominated for a federal judgeship, in his home state of Alabama, in 1986 by President Ronald Reagan. The Senate refused to confirm him, based on the fact that evidence and witness testimony indicated he was a raging racist.

When his nomination was being debated back in 1986, Coretta Scott King — widow of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. — sent a letter opposing his confirmation to Sen. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, a man known for his pro-segregation policies (and his racism).

Tonight, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren was reading Mrs. King’s letter aloud during the confirmation hearings when Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky invoked a rarely-senate code to keep her continuing. McConnell claimed that Warren was “impugning Sessions’ character.”

Basically, it’s more Republican bullshit to force through yet another undeserving Trump cabinet nominee.

Anyway, readthe letter, in its entirety, that McConnell wouldn’t let Warren here.



Resource Center meets, exceeds capital campaign goal

Posted on 07 Feb 2017 at 12:37pm

Resource Center held the grand opening celebration for its new community center on Cedar Springs Road in May 2016.

Officials with Resource Center announced today that the agency has exceeded its capital campaign goal of $8.7 million dollars.

According to a statement released this morning (Tuesday, Feb. 7), “Since 2008, a broad base of generous donors contributed [more than] $9,029,000 in funds to the campaign, enabling the Center to expand services and build a new community center on Cedar Springs Road. The light-filled, triangular-shaped, 20,000-square-foot community center is home for LBGTQ youth, seniors, family, advocacy and behavioral health programs.”

Resource Center Chief Executive Officer Cece Cox said, “The generous spirit of our community prevailed and we are thankful for everyone who has helped us reach this milestone. Thanks to the generosity of donors and community partners of the capital campaign, we are able to ensure the well-being of Dallas’ LGBTQ youth and seniors and the mental health needs of our community.”

The statement expressed thanks for “the guidance and experience of the Center’s board of directors, building committee, architect and legal counsel.”

And Capital Campaign Steering Committee Chair Terry Loftis said, “We appreciate friends of the Center for donating and discounting goods and services to create a welcoming, iconic building and the dedicated campaign committee and volunteers who helped us fundraise. From the start, this campaign was rooted in service, commitment and love for our clients and the community.”

The capital campaign funded the renovation of the health campus at Reagan and Brown streets allowing consolidation of HIV services for nutrition services, the food pantry, insurance assistance and case management. Accessible and convenient STD and HIV testing is maintained at the Center’s Nelson-Tebedo Clinic on Cedar Springs Road, also the home for the dental clinic.

Chief Development Officer Cameron Hernholm noted, “Resource Center’s capital campaign was the largest such effort by an LGBT agency in the state of Texas and one of the largest LGBT capital campaigns in the country. [All donors], whether they have given $1 or $1 million will be recognized on the ‘donor walls’ at the new community center and newly remodeled health campus. It’s taken community gifts to make this happen, and everyone who contributed deserves to be recognized.”

To schedule a tour of the new community center, email

For more information or to support the Center contact Cameron Hernholm, Chief Development Officer, at 214-540-4421 or



Conservatives dislike church Gorsuch attends

Posted on 07 Feb 2017 at 9:57am

Conservatives, such as Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association, are upset with the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“Be advised: Gorsuch attends a church that is rabidly pro-gay, pro-Muslim, pro-green, and anti-Trump,” Fischer tweeted.

Gorsuch attends St. John’s Episcopal Church in Boulder, Colo. Although Gorsuch wrote the 10th Court of Appeals’ Hobby Lobby decision, conservatives distrust what he hears in church from its pastors and some of the things the church does.

What’s an example of what this hotbed of Colorado Springs liberalism does? The church has installed solar panels to fight so-called global warming, the right argues. On the other hand, sometimes solar panels are installed to simply reduce the electric bill.

Conservatives are objecting to the church having rung its bells 49 times after the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando. They dislike the church’s female pastor, the Rev. Susan W. Springer, who attended the Women’s March and performs same-sex marriages, according to the Washington Post.

Another member of the church’s clergy has spoken in favor of gun control and condemned disrespectful talk about Muslims by Trump.

No, Gorsuch has never claimed any of these positions. And the only statement he’s made about his church is that it’s diverse with people who embrace a wide variety of positions. But that’s not good enough for extremists like Fischer, who is working to derail Gorsuch’s appointment along … along with liberal groups.


Jack Ehrhardt has died

Posted on 06 Feb 2017 at 12:01pm

Jack Ehrhardt, 85, husband of former state Rep. Harryette Ehrhardt, died at home on Feb. 1. A memorial service will be held on Feb. 11.

A Professor Emeritus at UT Southwestern Medical School and past President of the Dallas Academy of Ophthalmology, Dr. Ehrhardt’s distinguished professional career spanned more than 30 years of private practice in East Dallas.

He attended Rice University and U. T. Southwestern Medical School, interned at John Peter Smith and joined the U.S. Air Force where he became a Captain. After his discharge, he received further training at Tulane University and Hermann Hospital and became a Fellow of the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

The obituary in the Dallas Morning News displays the Ehrhardt family’s wonderful sense of humor to describe their dedication to equality and civil rights as they raised their children at a time when there was little equality in Dallas.

Jack and Harryette creatively raised five children. They moved to the Woodrow Wilson School area so their children could attend what was then Dallas’ only naturally integrated high school. They purchased a “hippie commune” house on Swiss Avenue for less than the vacant lot next door (anticipating demolition for the expected high-rise). They restored it with help from family and extended family. The family also constructed their own lake house at Cedar Creek Lake.

The rare brain tumor and operation that ended his professional career robbed him of short-term memory, but left him with his great sense of humor and long-term memory including the ability to diagnose friends’ ailments and twice to leap into action and save lives. Jack’s loves included travel (to every continent); owls (a collection of 400 from grateful patients); scuba diving (and underwater photography); and chocolate (teasingly dubbed a “visitor’s toll”).

Swiss Avenue Halloween was his favorite holiday, watching 3,000 to 4,000 children brave the yard of tombstones for packets of candy including voter registration cards and reminders to vote.

Jack is survived by Harryette, his wife of 62 years, five children and extended family (Ginger Twichell and Sam Leake, Taffy Nelson and Scott, Lynn O’Neal M.D. and Mike, John Ehrhardt and Melissa, Katy Henderson, and Mike Twichell); 13 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren; and sister-in-law (Ralphana Barnes and Skip); and more than 30 nieces and nephews.

A memorial service celebrating his life will be held on Saturday, Feb. 11 at 3 p.m. at St. Matthew’s Cathedral, 5100 Ross Ave., and afterwards at the Ehrhardt home.

Jack donated his body to Southwestern for medical research. If so inclined, please consider honoring Jack with a gift to Dallas County Medical Society Alliance: Aldredge House, The Dallas Democratic Party or other inclusive effort.


‘We’re Not Going Back’ is theme of LGBT rally and march

Posted on 04 Feb 2017 at 6:40pm

“We’re not going back,” Rafael McDonnell told a crowd of about 700 people who rallied at Resource Center and marched to the Legacy of Love monument on Saturday, Feb. 4.

The march was staged in solidarity with other groups under attack by the Trump administration as well as demanding that advances made during the Obama administration not be wiped out.

The Rev. Neil Cazares-Thomas called for a wall to be built between the White House and religion. He called on Trump to stop hijacking God and said what he’s doing is not Christianity.

Lex Trevino from Rainbow LULAC said, “No human is illegal.”

Take Back Oak Lawn’s Michael Dominguez pointed out the LGBT community has made lots of friends over the past two weeks.

Each speaker called on the LGBT community to stand up for every other group whose rights are being challenged and not to let the opposition divide the LGBT community by attacking the trans community while assuring the LGB community.



LGBT rally and march set for this weekend

Posted on 02 Feb 2017 at 10:23am

An LGBT rally and march is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 4 to send the message “We are not going back on our civil rights.” The rally begins at 4 p.m. on Saturday at Resource Center, 5750 Cedar Springs Road.

This week, Donald Trump announced he would not rescind an executive order signed by President Barack Obama that requires federal contractors to have nondiscrimination policies in place. That order forced ExxonMobil to put a nondiscrimination policy in place in order to continue doing business with the government. (That company’s CEO, Rex Tillerson, was sworn in as Secretary of State yesterday, Feb. 1.)

A different anti-LGBT executive order is still expected from Trump. That order would allow federal employees to refuse to serve people if it conflicted with their deeply held religious beliefs. The order is expected to be worded so that the discrimination is a one-way street. LGBT federal employees won’t be allowed to refuse service to bigots.

Activists have said that should the anti-LGBT executive order be issued, the community is asked to meet at the Legacy of Love monument at the corner of Cedar Springs and Oak Lawn at 7 p.m. on the day the order is signed.

Organizers for the Saturday rally include: Lambda Legal, Dallas Lgbtqia Front, Dallas Workers Front, Take Back Oak Lawn, QueerBomb Dallas, LULAC 4871 – The Dallas Rainbow Council, Cathedral of Hope, Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance (DGLA), Stonewall Democrats of Dallas, Fight for Fifteen Dallas, Democratic Socialists of America- North Texas, Resource Center, HRC, Equality Texas and Congregation Beth El Binah.


Homophobic Exxon CEO confirmed as Secretary of State

Posted on 01 Feb 2017 at 2:43pm

Rex Tillerson

Rex Tillerson, the paranoid, homophobic former CEO of ExxonMobil known for taking benefits away from LGBT Mobil employees when the two companies merged in 1999, was confirmed to be Secretary of State by a vote of 56 to 43.

Previously, the most contentious vote for a Secretary of State was Condoleeza Rice, who was confirmed by 85 to 13, according to the New York Times.

Tillerson worked diligently to prevent Exxon’s LGBT employees from having benefits and even illegally tried to keep a shareholder proposition off the agenda at one of its annual meetings. The company’s largest shareholder, the New York State pension fund administered by its state Comptroller, floated the proposition each year.

At one annual meeting of the corporation, Dallas Voice tried talking to a representative of the New York Comptroller’s office at the Meyerson in downtown Dallas where the meeting is held each year, Exxon had police follow us until we left and talked at the Winspear instead.

Tillerson was paranoid about offering those benefits. He was adamant in a meeting arranged by Resource Center that the only reason Exxon was not offering the benefits was no one was going to tell him what to do.

Despite Exxon winning the ballot fight to not offer benefits each year for 16 years, the company offered those same benefits to employees who lived in other countries where those benefits were mandated. When marriage equality became law, Exxon changed its policy in the U.S. immediately.

Serving as president of the Boy Scouts of America, Tillerson was also instrumental in preventing the organization from updating its policy to allow gay Scouts and Scout leaders.


LEAGUE Foundation at AT&T offers LGBT scholarships

Posted on 01 Feb 2017 at 12:20pm

The LEAGUE Foundation 2017 LGBT Scholarship program is open for high school seniors to apply online. The application deadline for scholarships is midnight April 30 and awards will be dispersed during the summer. Since 1996, LEAGUE Foundation has awarded 120 college scholarships totaling $251,000 to self-identified lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer graduating U.S. high school students.

LEAGUE@AT&T is the company’s LGBT employee resource group.

LEAGUE Foundation has 4 awards for consideration:

The Laurel Hester Memorial Scholarship (1 award annually)
The Matthew Shepard Memorial Scholarship (1 award annually)
The Stonewall Empowerment Scholarship (1 award annually – new scholarship for 2017)
The LEAGUE Foundation Scholarship (typically 9 awards annually – new number of awards started in 2016 and continuing in 2017)

Scholarship Qualifications

Applications are usually accepted from January through April.  Decisions are usually made in July. The program is open to self-identified gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or queer graduating high school seniors meeting the prescribed criteria. Family members and mentors are encouraged to work with applicants to help ensure their submissions are complete.

The applicant must:
•  Be graduating from high school in the year he / she applies for a scholarship.
•  Be a United States Citizen or be a legal immigrant.
•  Be attending an accredited college, university, or vocational school within the United States or Canada. Proof of acceptance is required.
•  Provide an OFFICIAL copy of his / her high school transcript showing a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or better using a 4.0 scale or equivalent. Weighted average can be used in this calculations. If the applicant’s high school does not use a numerical grading system, then a complete description of the measures of success and requirements for graduation is required.
•  Complete 2 personal essays as outlined on the application form.
•  Provide at least 2 letters of recommendation from non-family members.
•  Prepare a detailed list of community involvement. “Extra-Credit” is given to those activities and leadership roles relating directly to the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender communities.
•  Sign an acknowledgement form agreeing to the outlined terms and conditions of the application.


SCOTUS nominee has history of anti-LGBT rulings

Posted on 01 Feb 2017 at 10:06am

Judge Neil Gorsuch

On Tuesday, Jan. 31, Donald Trump nominated Judge Neil Gorsuch to be an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court to replace Justice Antonin Scalia.

Gorsuch sits on the 10 Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.

Here’s how he ruled on some issues related to the LGBT community, according to research done by the Williams Institute.

Druley v. Patton: Judge Gorsuch joined an unpublished opinion ruling against a transgender inmate’s constitutional claims seeking hormone treatment and re-assignment from an all-male facility.

Kastl v. Maricopa County Community College District: Judge Gorsuch, sitting by designation on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, joined an unpublished opinion that, while recognizing that a transgender person can state a claim for sex discrimination under Title VII based on a theory of gender stereotyping, ultimately ruled against the plaintiff.  The employer had barred the plaintiff from using the female restroom until completing gender-confirmation surgery.  The court held that “restroom safety” was a non-discriminatory reason for the employer’s decision.

Hobby Lobby Stores v. Sebelius: Judge Gorsuch joined an opinion in favor of companies alleging that the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate violated their religious rights under the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).  Judge Gorsuch authored a concurrence to explain his expansive view of religious liberty claims under RFRA.

Rebecca Isaacs, Executive Director of Equality Federation said, “Supreme Court Justices should be able to uphold the constitution without allowing personal prejudice against any group of people to cloud their decisions. Mr. Gorsuch has a troubling history of working against fairness for LGBTQ Americans.”

Lambda Legal CEO Rachel Tiven said, “We absolutely must not confirm a Supreme Court nominee who has ruled that the religious beliefs and moral judgments of employers can be forced upon their employees. It is a short hop from restrictions on birth control to restrictions on the intimate relationships and health care needs of LGBT people.”