New HIV clinic opens here to serve region's patients
Afflicted population grows in number, while ranks of specialists are in decline
David ColeFebruary 12th, 2009
Internal Medicine Residency Spokane, which is located at the Fifth & Browne Medical Center near downtown, has opened a new clinic to provide HIV and AIDS patients with medical care.
Internal Medicine is a three-year internal medicine residency program affiliated academically with the University of Washington School of Medicine and sponsored by Deaconess Medical Center and Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center & Children's Hospital that provides training for 21 graduate physicians.
The HIV Clinic joins other specialty clinics at Internal Medicine that provide dermatology, podiatry, and psychiatry services and also treat infectious diseases. The HIV Clinic was founded to provide a high level of medical care for people from throughout the Inland Northwest who have HIV/AIDS and to provide training and experience for graduate physicians enrolled in the Internal Medicine program, Internal Medicine says.
"We have been interested in adding HIV/AIDS services for some time to our program due to the growing number of HIV/AIDS patients in the Inland Northwest," says Dr. Judy Benson, director of Internal Medicine. She says HIV patients are living longer because of improved treatment and medications, but new infections continue to occur at the same rate they have for years.
"As a result, we are seeing a growing patient population while the number of HIV specialists and health-care options have decreased over the past few years," says Benson.
The HIV Clinic has hired physician's assistant Debbie Stimpson, a certified HIV specialist, to manage the new clinic. Stimpson, who also has a degree from UW as a registered dietitian, has been the primary HIV care provider at the Community Health Association of Spokane for the past three years and has worked with the Spokane AIDS Network.
New patients at the clinic will be seen by both Stimpson and a resident physician, the clinic says. Dr. John Frlan is the supervising physician for the HIV Clinic. The clinic also has hired a medical assistant for Stimpson.
The clinic is accepting patients who are referred by their health-care provider or their HIV case manager. Self-insured patients may call the HIV Clinic directly to schedule appointments.
Dr. Jeff Collins, chief medical officer at Sacred Heart, says, "By listening to our community partners, including the Spokane AIDS Network and the Spokane Regional Health District, we knew there was a need for additional options of health care for people dealing with HIV and AIDS in this region. At the same time, we understood that our residency program will benefit through adding specialty care for HIV/AIDS to our training curriculum."