Dr. Go gets HIV expert credentials


Our very own Dr. Asceline Go recently passed the 2015 AAHIVM HIV Pharmacist / HIV Specialist, and HIV Expert Credentialing examination.

What’s that? Well, according to the American Academy of HIV Medicine website: The Academy’s program is the only widely recognized, statistically sound and defensible measurement program available in HIV-focused medical care.  On average, about 2,000 providers are actively maintaining an AAHIVM credential, a majority of which principally identify as an HIV provider.  In 2015, most US HIV-positive patients are now under the care of an Academy-certified provider.

Many providers may already serve patients with HIV. So why go through the extensive testing process? Dr. Donna Sweet writes about it on the website:

We live in an increasingly complex health care environment that demands that we keep up with its rapid evolution.  Treating HIV is not the same as it was 25 years ago, as many HIV care veterans know.  Breakthroughs in treatment and care that combat HIV and extend life are often followed by perplexing trends, drug interactions and trends in new toxicities and drug interactions.  Social and cultural responses to HIV have a direct impact on both our HIV-positive and negative patients. This in turn affects how we provide – and how our patients receive – HIV care and treatment, as well as our messages of wellness, risk reduction and prevention. Increased life expectancy for people living with HIV has presented a growing list of issues that includes: treatment adherence, hepatitis B/C co-infection, cardiovascular disease, and more. The definition of quality HIV care, then, must necessarily evolve as people live longer with the disease. It also must integrate the complexities of HIV with health risk factors typically associated with the normal aging process.
Becoming an Academy-credentialed HIV Specialist™ is a way to remain current, demonstrate frontline experience, and evolve with changes in HIV technology, with discoveries of new treatments and with shifts in the nation’s health care system. The AAHIVM HIV Specialist™ credential demonstrates to patients, colleagues, employers and third party payers a care provider’s commitment to maintaining continuing competency through ongoing learning, experience and self-assessment.
Becoming credentialed through a process like the Academy’s program demonstrates to the medical community-at-large that we as HIV care providers voluntarily seek to establish for ourselves a rigorous, uniform national standard for the knowledge and experience base expected of all practitioners serving on HIV care teams. Developing a universal assessment tool of HIV knowledge for physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and pharmacists also helps reduce barriers to entry into this specialized area of care. The AAHIVM HIV Specialist™ designation is available to health care professionals from diverse health care settings, educational backgrounds and front line care experience. Credentialing improves our professional development, benefits our patients’ care, and provides a foundation for the creation of better treatment and care access opportunities.

Tackling myths this World AIDS Day

Dec. 1, is World AIDS Day.

We wanted to take a few minutes and look at some myths that still surround HIV/AIDS and then show you the reality.

For me, the most important one you should read today is:

Myth: I’m HIV-positive — my life is over.

Reality: In the early years of the disease epidemic, the death rate from AIDS was extremely high. But today, antiretroviral drugs allow HIV-positive people — and even those with AIDS — to live much longer, normal, and productive lives.

If you have HIV/AIDS, your life is NOT over. And you are NOT alone. Come see our Caring Together staff on the third floor of our George Street site in York.

Take a look at more myths and the truth below.

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Sheen announcement raises HIV awareness, questions

sheenA lot of things happened yesterday on social media when Charlie Sheen went on the Today Show to reveal his HIV+ status. And a lot of it was negative.

For many agencies who work with HIV clients, I saw a push to remind people about the need for testing and the stigma around HIV.

Everyone and anyone can and will have an opinion on Charlie Sheen. Having been diagnosed four years ago, he said he told all partners. Some of those partners are saying that’s not true. And that’s where a lot of people have spoken out on social media deploring his alleged actions or inactions.

Here at Family First Health, Caring Together does free HIV testing daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. We encourage everyone to know their status. And if a test comes back positive, our staff is here and willing to help be a care coordinator for you. The level of care that our staff puts into its patients is something to behold. 

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Dr. Luis Garcia wins photography award

Luis Garcia

Luis Garcia

Patients by day, photos by … well.

Dr. Luis Garcia’s photo “Muddy Foot” won “Best in Class – Artistic Expression of Family Medicine” for the Visual Arts Competition at the 2015 Family Medicine Education Consortium Annual Meeting October 30 – November 1 in Danvers, Mass.

Here’s the background of the photo from his submission. Congrats Dr. Garcia!

In tropical northwestern Ecuador there is a small village located on an unnamed island that is surrounded by a lazy river.  Needless to say it is only accessible by boat or canoe.  Health care access is rare for these people, so we were able to take our medical mission and serve these people for two days.

As the parent of a toddler, I am amazed at how much we in our society and culture obsess over shoes.  Children’s feet are constantly changing and there is always the issue of trying to keep the shoes on the feet of children who are eager to remove them at any given chance.  Parents are often quick to spend extraordinary amounts of money on shoes that will only be worn for a few months.  Needless to say, this is not the case in this village in Ecuador.  Children ran freely without shoes, and on a rainy day their bare feet would trail mud wherever they went.

I think this photo is not only a good reminder of the poverty seen in other countries, but also perhaps can be seen as an invitation in our own lives to live more simply.

Staff-wide help to build a home

Look at all the stuff we have so far, and it's just beginning!

Look at all the stuff we have so far, and it’s just beginning!

Remember the story about Sarah – the Caring Together patient whose birthday was made when staff surprised her with a night in a king-sized bed at a hotel? 

Well, the staff continues to go above and beyond for her. Let’s get caught up.

Sarah continues to be resilient and brave about her recent HIV diagnosis and health battles. Case manager Carrie Prowell said:

“She makes me proud everyday with her determination to ‘be just fine’ for her girls,  and her story is truly nothing less than inspirational.”

The family is currently living in a crowded one bedroom apartment without a bed (hence the birthday surprise), but as of Jan. 1, they’ll be moving into a new three-bedroom apartment!

The problem is that the family has no household items.

You probably won’t be surprised that the minute Carrie shared this story, Shannon McElroy (her boss) and Courtney Lewis (director of development) started collecting things to bring in. Of course, Carrie did, too. Word spread to Sue Posey (practice manager at the George Street Center) and she started bringing in items.

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Who’s WOWing whom this month?

wowcardDid you know that at Family First Health we have “WOW” cards?

It’s a chance for staff to nominate other employees who they see doing something the exemplify our guiding principals.

What are our principals you may ask:

“Patient Centered” – “Respectful” – “Serves Everyone” – “Fiscally Responsible” –  “ Continuous Improvement and Innovation” – “Integrity” – “Collaborative”

Not only does the employee, supervisor and CEO get to see who’s WOWing who in the office, but each month, a drawing done by HR will choose the winners of 3 $50 Giant gift cards.

Take a look at the winners for September and October.


Lori Garman – PCT, LPN – Hanover Center

Nominated by: Lisa Smith, CRNP – Hanover Center

Event that wowed Lisa: Lori went out of her way to call different pharmacies to find a medication at a cheaper price for a patient!!

Nelly Quiles – Medical Reception – Hannah Penn Center

Nominated by: Lois Stitely, Practice Manager – Hannah Penn Center

Event that wowed Lois: Nelly assisted a patient in a wheelchair who was leaning over while waiting for a bus by making pillows out of bubble wrap and drapes. Way to go!!!!

Kate Murphy – PCT, CMA – Gettysburg Center

Nominated by: Andrea Velasquez, PA-C – Gettysburg Center

Event that wowed Andrea: Kate has been a good support to the team and improving daily. Welcome aboard!


Patrisia Trejo-Armentilla – Patient Care Team, MA – GSC

Nominated by: Sheila Dupont, PCT Supervisor – GSC

Event that wowed Sheila: Patrisia ran the autoclave spore test while Ginny was out without having to be asked. Way to support the team!!

Joaquin Calles-Guzman – Medical Case Manager, Caring Together – GSC

Nominated by: Tanya Barr, MA, Clinical Care Coordinator, Caring Together – GSC

Event that wowed Tanya: Joaquin took time from his day, without notice, to help a new client and his wife with housing and insurance benefits. Their stress level significantly decreased after meeting with him. Thank you!!! 

Heather Gentzler – MA, Medical Reception Floater – Lewisberry Center

Nominated by: Jacintha Weinstein, PCT, LPN – Hannah Penn Center

Event that wowed Jacintha: A child ran out of the school-via HP exit. Heather ran after the child and got him back to the school, without incident.

First-time moms: You’re not alone


Looking down at the pregnancy test for the first time and seeing the plus sign can be overwhelming for most women.

You might think: “I don’t know if I can do this.”

And for some first-time moms, they aren’t sure they can do it alone.

But with Family First Health’s Nurse-Family Partnership, you don’t have to. The program pairs up first-time, MA/WIC eligible moms with a nurse and they stay together through the baby’s second birthday.

Amber was at her doctor’s office when he asked if she’d be interested in a NFP nurse to help educate her about children. Amber thought, “This is a stupid question, I don’t need help from a complete stranger.” But still, she answered the call. Her nurse, Bridget, showed up and Amber was feeling nervous, scared and unsure. But once Bridget walked through the door, those fears were gone. She was already like family.

Bridget and Amber spent time together before her daughter’s birth. Bridget came to the hospital to help Amber learn how to hold the baby without hurting her C-section scar. And now, five months later, they’re working on interactions and teaching her daughter new things. “She comes to my new apartment and just loves my baby girl to death,” Amber said.

For the Adams County Giving Spree, we were raising money for the Nurse-Family Partnership program.

Not only is it important for first-time moms to know about our program, but for anyone who might have a first-time mom in their life.

No first-time mom has to do it alone. We’re here to help.

Learn more about Nurse-Family Partnership here.

And please considering giving the Gift of Good Health to all first-time moms through our programs.