Friday, February 13, 2009

Russians from Orenburg implement new ideas from Reno

Orenburg, Russia. In the summer of 2008, a delegation of Russian doctors and social workers traveled to Reno, Nevada, for training in community-based health and social services as part of a Community Connections program under USAID. The delegation was in Reno to exchange ideas and best practices in the treatment and prevention of infectious diseases and specifically AIDS/HIV. Two of the participants, Dr. Oksana Porshina and Alfia Arkhipova, took their lessons to heart. Both ladies were high lighted by USAID as living "success stories."

Ms. Arkhipova, Director of the Gai City Administration’s Office for Social Support of Families and Children, developed the program to provide children and their parents the psychological, social and medical support they need to start school. The program also offers assistance in coping with the myriad challenges of living with HIV. Born of Ms. Arkhipava’s experience during the Community Connections exchange, the one-year initiative, First Time First Grade, was first discussed at a meeting with the regional Social Protection Department, medical professionals and members of the Commission on Youth Issues and Protection of the Rights of Minors, who enthusiastically endorsed the project. First Time First Grade subsequently attracted partners from the Social Protection Department, the Children’s Hospital and the City Department of Education. Ms. Arkhipova believes her experiences in the US will enable her to continue helping children with HIV integrate into society.

Dr. Porshina’s Community Connections exchange experience in Reno, NV has greatly enhanced her work with commercial sex workers in Orenburg by demonstrating practical methods for supporting uninsured patients. As Director of the Primary Prevention Department at the Orenburg State Clinic for Skin and Venereal Diseases, Ms. Porshina incorporated elements of a program run by US hospitals and health centers into activities to prevent the spread of HIV and STDs among commercial sex workers. In Reno, Dr. Porshina met the Executive Director, Ms. Sherri Rice of the Access to Healthcare Network which provides medical services at a reduced cost to uninsured patients. Impressed by the network, Ms. Porshina determined to provide medical services at her clinic for thirty percent of the standard price-- on condition of cash payment. To receive the same services free of charge, the clinic stipulates only that the patient submit legal documentation of identity, something that prior to the program many patients were reluctant to do. When the service was initially offered, held back by concern about privacy, few took advantage of the services, but now five or six patients a week seek help of the clinic’s physicians.

Ms. Porshina notes that the most valuable result of incorporating the new methods is that commercial sex workers have begun to take more responsibility for their health. Doctor appointments ceased being one-time occurrences but rather included additional appointments and attempts to adhere to the medical worker’s prescriptions.

These articles were originally published in the USAID's website and republished by Joaquin Rafael Roces for the NNIC in their Newsletter.

Community Connections: From Orenburg to Reno

Reno, NV - 10 doctors, social workers and NGO specialists traveled to Reno and stayed with home hosts from June 26 to July 17. They arrived in Reno under a Community Connections program sponsored by USAID. They were here to exchange ideas and best practices in the treatment and prevention of infectious diseases and specifically AIDS/HIV.

Each delegate was hosted by a host family in the Reno-Sparks area. 10 families opened their homes to the Russian visitors and shared their lives and routines. The three week program included professional appointments with local resources such as the HOPES Clinic, the AIDS Foundation and the HAWC Homeless Outreach Clinic. Additionally, they met rural service providers in Schurz and Virginia City to exchange ideas and best practices in regard to trying to deliver health care services to rural communities. In Schurz, NV, they met with the director of the Indian Health Services regional clinic on the Walker River Indian Reservation. Additionally, another component of their program was to learn about delivering services to minority populations and the delegation also met with Victoria Skocdopole, Health Services Manager for Nevada Urban Indians, as well as Cecilia Khan, Social Worker for the Nevada Hispanic Services. At the Reno Sparks Gospel Mission, the delegates learned about the various medical and social health care and outreach that the mission provides for Reno’s growing homeless population. After the presentation, the Russian visitors volunteered and helped prepare the evening meal as well as helped serve Reno’s neediest population.

As a part of their cultural component of their program, the visitors visited the Native American Cultural Center and Museum in Pyramid Lake. There, the visitors met with Ben Aleck , Director and Curator of the Museum and Cultural Center. Many of the visitors had plenty of questions regarding the current state of US-Indian relationship and limited sovereignty that Native Americans now practice within the reservation system. They also discussed with Mr. Aleck the ancient history of the tribes in Nevada, archeological finds around the lake area, and current health issues facing Native Americans.

The visitors also visited several correctional facilities to meet with medical staff within the facilities. They visited the Washoe County Detention facility in Reno as well as the Nevada State Prison and the Northern Nevada Correctional Center in Carson City. The tours and presentation was arranged by William Donat , warden for the Nevada State Prison. At the Washoe County Detention Facility, Dep. Janet Peard arranged for a tour of the Medical Facility at the Parr Blvd Detention Facility and met with the Medical Service Supervisor, Gale Singletary. The Nevada State Prison, the countries oldest operating Prison, the visitors also toured their medical facility as well as several of the Prison Industrial Sites. The Nevada State Prison was opened in 1862 as a territorial prison and predates the infamous Alcatraz and Nevada’s own statehood. The Northern Nevada Correctional Center, the visitors toured and met with clinical and psychological staff at the Regional Medical Facility for the entire Nevada Department of Prisons facilities in Northern Nevada. There the visitors toured the Clinical, Dental and Psychological wings of the facility.

This article was written by Joaquin Rafael Roces and was originally published in the NNIC's August 2008 Newsletter.