Monday, December 20, 2004

Silent Night, Unsettling Nights in Arkansas

The stories surrounding the ADAP issue and subsequent investigations at the Arkansas Department of Health, continue to appear in the local Democrat Gazette and editoral page columinst such as Meredith Oakley are having a field day poking around the ruins of this mish mash of sorted doings. Meanwhile, those that are most likely to be affected seemingly sit idle, like fresh doe's caught in the headlights of an on coming car, not realizing what's going to hit them. According to Oakley, "critics" who state that the ADH's approach to assisting those deleted from the program and sent down the PAP hole in search of drug assistance may be overstating the situation, however, if the state can't seem to oversee invoicing procedures or actually defining program gudielines, what could you expect from office workers who will have to coordinate mountains of paper work in reference to a myraid of changing PAP regulations. These regulations vary from case to case and in some instances from patient to patient, depending upon product need and circumstances. It could be a dizzying array of follow-up, forms, income levels and timeliness, that undoubtly will cause some friction and treatment interruption. Ultimately, I question exactly who will be in charge of this task and what staffing will be put into place to hande the work load. Furthermore, I'm amazed at the finger pointing and lack of responsibility taken by superiors within the AIDS unit and up the chain of command to Director, Faye Boozemen. Apparently ,Ms. Thrower's "bosess" were delegators and "not in the loop" on activitites, goals or as some have whispered, not really interested in AIDS in Arkansas. In the meantime, the national publication, ADVOCATE, will be profiling this situation in a January 2005 issue and will attempt to disseminate how the system works and is it working. I suggest that some ADH officials as well as, affected patients may need to pick up a copy and take a gander to see if they can get some pointers.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

A Double-Take...Is Rome burning in Arkansas??

Phones were ringing and the commuity has been abuzz concerning recent developments in the functioning of community based organizations and AIDS based organizations in greater Pulaski County and statewide. "People are talking," and speculating about the closing aftermath of certain agencies and what caused their demise. It seems they were closing faster that Bush Cabinet resignations could be counted. As the smoke clears, the landscape is littered with bits and pieces of such groups as Arkansas Equity Network, which began with fanfare and much publicize organizing meetings. Promising a "new day" in Arkansas advocacy including a statewide network of newly energized youth who would be pulling us all together to deal with the real issues that affect us internally.However, this groundswell of strident"fired up individuals" simply flamed out and drew it last breath a few months ago as it scurried it's reminants over to yet another agency, Positive Voices, who suffered a slow and I what I feel was an unfortunate death, when there was so many resources poured into this venture. Office furniture, computers, databases and other valuable tools needed for organizational work now become "returned inventory" to the Arkansas Health Department, who will distribute it to other entities within it's massive system. Futhermore,the continuing power struggle of the Stonewall Democrats caused them to get "un-noticed by the State Democratic machine,"thusly dropping the ball in the recent election cycle. This fumble cost us a more formal place at the political table and possibly some marginal clout. Of course due to a leadership vaccum, lack of capacity building empowerment and vision, these folks, despite their meager cash stash, seems to be confusion as to how t0 leverage the organization into something viable. Such a pity. Nevertheless, the alledged disarray at Future Builders has all but stymied this "so-called" ASO's effectiveness and impact on its stakeholders as well. Yet another group ripe for the non-profit trash heap. Meanwhile, budget cuts still loom, other area agencies continue to eek out a muddled existence, the ADAP waiting list is 33 weeks old with more names to be added, the media reported that "Gays Moving out of State.." when in all actuality, it's only one Lesbian couple moving to Oregon which does not qualify for a mass exodus, and the band plays on! Is this all a bad dream or am I like "Alice" falling into the looking glass and ending up in a bizarre paradigm. No silly, it's just the Body Politic of Arkansas' gay community, still wandering in the desert in search of the promise land.