FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 30, 2014
Jacobi Doctor Receives Laubenstein Award for HIV/AIDS Care Efforts
One of Only Three Doctors Statewide to Receive Recognition
Dr. Yvette Calderon
Bronx, NY ― The New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation’s North Bronx Healthcare Network (NBHN) announced today that one of its own – Yvette Calderon, MD, MS – has been recognized by the New York State Department of Health with the Laubenstein Award for recognition for her decades of work in HIV/AIDS prevention efforts. Dr. Calderon, an emergency department physician and chief of Urgent Care at Jacobi Medical Center, has led HHC’s efforts to combat HIV/AIDS through a variety of innovative programs that engage underserved communities and at-risk populations.
State Department of Health records show that over 23,000 residents of the Bronx are currently living with HIV/AIDS. It is believed that between 20 to 25 percent of this population is unaware they are carrying the HIV virus, making it highly likely they will spread the disease unknowingly to their sexual partners or loved ones.
As the State's largest provider of HIV primary care, HHC hospitals and health centers have tested more than 1.3 million people since 2005, when the public hospital system began making HIV testing part of routine medical care for patients by offering tests in emergency rooms, in-patient units, and outpatient clinics. There are treatment services available at HHC facilities throughout the five boroughs. To find an HHC hospital or clinic that offers HIV testing call 311 or visit http://www.nyc.gov/hhc.
Dr. Calderon’s mission to improve care for underserved communities is very much part of her own personal upbringing; she was raised in Manhattan’s Chelsea Projects by parents who had both emigrated from Puerto Rico.
“Since I was at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, I’ve always wanted to work with disadvantaged populations who need access to care,” Calderon said. After medical school, she served as chief resident in the Emergency Medicine department at Jacobi, and upon completing her residency, became a physician in that department.
In 2003, Dr. Calderon partnered with Jason M. Leider, MD, PhD, medical director of the HHC North Bronx Health Network’s Adult HIV Service, to develop and implement Project B.R.I.E.F. (Behavioral Intervention-Rapid HIV Testing Education & Follow-Up). B.R.I.E.F. seeks to boost HIV awareness through rapid testing in non-traditional testing environments such as emergency rooms and other clinical settings. After patients complete a rapid HIV test and a survey, those who test positive for the virus are given immediate treatment. Those who test negative but are at high risk for contracting the virus receive educational intervention and counseling. Rapid testing is now commonly performed at all HHC hospitals and health centers, including Jacobi and North Central Bronx Hospital.
“You need to educate if you are going to change behavior,” Calderon explained. “B.R.I.E.F. provides multimedia education and prevention messages to all who are tested.”
“Dr. Calderon has been a tireless champion of HIV prevention; more than 100,000 Bronx residents have been tested due to her work, and over 350 people who have been diagnosed with HIV are being linked to care” said Dr. Leider. “Programs throughout New York City as well as countries such as England and Ireland have adapted her work for their HIV testing and care efforts. She has also secured grant funding from every level of government, as well as private foundations, to develop innovative programs. In the areas of scholarship, mentoring, clinical performance and social activism, Yvette is simply unmatched. ”
Recent efforts by Drs. Calderon and Leider have succeeded in expanding Project B.R.I.E.F. to five pharmacies in the Bronx and Manhattan, and testing over 2,000 people, many of them uninsured, within a ten-month period. Research shows that this form of non-traditional testing effectively reaches high-risk populations that are not getting tested for HIV/AIDS.
These efforts led to Dr. Calderon’s nomination and to her being named one of only three in the state for the Linda Laubenstein, MD, HIV Clinical Excellence Award. The award, given by the New York State Department of Health, honors physicians who, in addition to providing the highest quality of clinical care for people with HIV/AIDS, are distinguished by their compassionate manner as well as their efforts to provide comprehensive care for people with HIV/AIDS. Dr. Laubenstein treated some of the country’s first AIDS patients, going above and beyond by making house calls and emergency room visits at any hour. She was also an activist, who worked with social organizations to compel the government to address the AIDS epidemic.
“It is an honor to receive the Laubenstein award, as she was so active in training many of the people whom I work with side-by-side today,” said Dr. Calderon. “The work my colleagues and I have been able to accomplish is the result of hundreds of hours of collaboration and I am truly grateful to work with such talented professionals.”
Calderon is also involved with groups promoting social and medical wellbeing as a board member of the Latino Commission on AIDS and the International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care (AIPAC). In addition, she promotes scholarship at Albert Einstein College of Medicine where she is Associate Dean of the Office of Diversity Enhancement, ensuring that students of all backgrounds can enter and graduate medical school.
This is not the first time Jacobi, NCBH and Dr. Calderon have been recognized for their stellar work. In 2009, the American Hospital Association bestowed the NOVA award on the two hospitals in recognition of innovative work in the field of HIV. The Laubenstein recognition reflects the sustaining power and importance of Calderon’s initiatives.
“We have touched so many lives and protected the health of large numbers of people whom we will never even know. Every person we treat or educate is preventing another transmission down the road.” Dr. Calderon said.
HHC's 11 acute care hospitals are Designated AIDS Centers, and HHC hospitals and community health centers offer specialized HIV care to all New Yorkers, regardless of ability to pay or immigration status. Services include:
- Rapid HIV testing – It is fast, easy and a confidential consultation is provided. Tests are available at all HHC hospitals and community health centers in the five boroughs. Get results in less than 30 minutes.
- Access to Care – HHC healthcare facilities have a seamless system to immediately link people to continuous, team-based and coordinated quality care when they learn they are infected with HIV. People with an HIV diagnosis receive antiretroviral treatment and self-management health education to help them be healthier, live longer and prevent transmission.
- Expert HIV/AIDS Providers – From physicians to support staff, the NYC public hospitals are home to nationally recognized HIV/AIDS specialists who have been on the front lines in the battle against this illness, providing compassionate care, testing, developing treatment plans and participating in important research.
- MetroPlus Health Plan – HHC's health insurance plan, MetroPlus, rated the number one HMO in New York State seven of the last nine years, has the state's largest HIV Special Needs Plan that provides comprehensive and targeted medical and support services to people facing HIV/AIDS.