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April Newsletter: The Community Capacity Project “One Box at a time, One Life at a time”

April 4th, 2023


The C.W. Williams Community Health Center, Inc is a Federally Qualified Health Center, designated Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH), and healthcare safety net located in Charlotte, NC. The founder, the late Dr. Charles Warren Williams, saw a need for quality healthcare among underserved and under-resourced communities in Charlotte. The Center began as a primary and preventative care service organization and has grown into a comprehensive “one-stop shop” for patients to access integrated healthcare and support services in one convenient location. Today their services include primary and preventative medical, dental, pharmacy, behavioral health, including mental health and substance use disorder counseling and Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT), HIV/STI, outreach, and Community Health Worker programs, and more. The Center collaborates with multiple community partners by setting up referrals for specialty care and co-hosting special events that address community health topics.


The Center’s compassionate and experienced staff provide patient-centered care in a culturally and linguistically sensitive environment. Dr. Edana Holliday, the Corporate Compliance Officer and Pharmacy Director, shared that their “HIV/STI department is designed and created to not only embody treatment, but a heavy focus is placed on prevention as well as testing. Our team was already providing testing in the communities, at nightclubs, at community events, at gas stations, and adding in some of these other pieces was extremely helpful.” The Center views the Community Capacity Project as a seamless fit to their organizational efforts. Dr. Holliday explained how the HIV self-test kit distribution project was added to their ‘layered’ approach to HIV/STI prevention and care, which consists of medical and non-medical case management, HIV provider specialists, peer support groups and counselors, and community advisory councils. Prior to the Community Capacity Project there was limited availability to HIV self-testing in Charlotte communities. The Center has expanded access of HIV self-test kits to community members who have the greatest need for HIV prevention services including sex workers and those with substance use disorders.


Kelly Hurley, Chief Development Officer of The Center, spoke about the challenge of stigma in the community as the Community Capacity Project rolled out; “Some people were hesitant to accept the HIV self-test kit because they viewed it as an admission that they may be in a high-risk group. To address the issue, our team had to come up with some creative ideas. One idea that our HIV director came up with was to suggest that people offer the HIV Self-Test Kit as a gift. This approach removes the burden associated with stigma and has been very effective with all populations. It essentially has been a game changer in terms of distribution.” Dr. Holliday and Ms. Hurley both mentioned that collaboration with the Center’s team members, the CDC Foundation, and Community Education Group has also been influential in finding new ways to address stigma within the community.


As the Community Capacity Project nears the end, The Center recognizes the importance of continuing HIV self-test kit distribution. Dr. Holliday explained, “We have seen the changes that it’s made. We’ve seen the benefits behind self-testing and our goal is to normalize self-testing, making sure that patients feel comfortable enough to not only receive and do the testing themselves, but also to follow up. Keeping the importance of HIV care alive and not by any means diminishing it, but also making sure the language around getting treatment and the ability to live your life once you’re in treatment, so making sure that that carries forward as well.” Consistency and rapport have helped The Center build relationships with community members and earn their trust, which has made a significant impact on the success of their program. A final, powerful remark from Ms. Hurley, “The program is saving lives, whether it’s one box at a time, one person at a time. We may never get all the results, we may never see the full impact, but we know it’s saving lives every day.”



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