May Spotlight Newsletter – Rich Gauthier- Care2Prevent
Author: Will Pettway
I hope everyone is holding up well and finding ways to stay grounded amidst the chaos. With just over a month of physical distancing it’s more crucial now to appreciate the positives that are happening in our community. I use the language of physical distancing because socially we are still able to connect with people regardless of location. I’ve gotten a lot more acquainted with Zoom lately, and I used it to reach out and learn more about Care2Prevent.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Rich Gauthier. As a clinical social work intern, Rich works with the behavioral health department of the Care2Prevent program in the Pediatrics department. This program’s charter involves care and support services for pediatric, adolescent, and young adult patients who are living with or vulnerable to acquiring HIV. Services offered are free, and the program works to connect patients to care within 24 hours. In addition to medical care and testing, Care2Prevent provides therapy, access to community groups, and informational resources. They have seen many of their patients grow from childhood to adulthood, but also offer services to adults; truly accepting clients where they are and providing care that makes sense for them.
Care2Prevent places a focus on building a safe environment. Rich shared some experiences of facilitating therapy sessions with clients who were not comfortable with going back into a hospital or medical setting for their meetings. Being client-centered and considering the harm that many of our clients have experienced in clinical settings, this involved choosing a space that felt more accessible for the client; whether it was a coffee shop in their neighborhood, the client’s own home, or somewhere else that provided a sense of familiarity and safety.
In addition to accommodating their clients’ preferences for therapy sessions and services that can be done off-site, Care2Prevent has two main clinics which provide health care at no cost; where they have providers as well as outreach and behavioral health specialists on site. The physicians also work out of Comer Children’s Hospital at the University of Chicago, in the infectious diseases department.
Rich told me that the ultimate goal of the Care2Prevent program would be, in a way, to “put ourselves out of business by ending HIV.” He went on to add that of course there will always be a need for the type of providers on their team, but they recognize that “the epidemic of HIV is something that disproportionately affects marginalized communities.” The Care2Prevent team is consistently working towards making sure that the members of those marginalized communities can have access to the care they need, and making sure that their clients feel supported, safe, and comfortable.
“They have us in their corner to support them.”
You can find out more about Care2Prevent @https://care2prevent.com/ or find them on social media @Care2prevent.