KANSAS CITY, Mo. — For people living with HIV and AIDS in the metro there is a new resource to help.
It’s a state of the art facility focused on helping with all aspects of care. Struggling to get care for HIV can not only be confusing but dehumanizing as well. Vivent Health is hoping their new facility can make their lives as happy and healthy as possible.
Vivent Health President and CEO, Mike Gifford, said for many in need stepping through their doors could change their life.
“It’s a home because everything is together. The professional team that works at are working in an interdisciplinary way. Doctors and dentists are talking about the care of patients. That often doesn’t happen in healthcare,” Gifford said.
They call it a medical home for people living with HIV and AIDS. No one actually lives there, but when you visit for care you get a wrap around of services. Patients get medical, dental, and mental health care in their 16,000-square-foot facility.
“We know that hunger and homelessness often play a very significant part in preventing people getting access to healthcare and here we’ll be able to solve those problems for them also,” Gifford said.
Vivent opened their 17th center in the Blue Parkway Shops near Swope Health in KCMO. The facility also offers PrEP and PEP, preventative medication for people at risk, along with a full service pharmacy, legal help, housing assistance, and a food pantry.
“We’re here for them under any circumstance. It doesn’t matter where you live, who you love, the color of your skin, or how much money you have in your wallet. You’re welcome here,” Gifford said.
Gifford said more than 100 people are diagnosed with HIV each year in the metro and the majority of them are in minority communities.
Levi Sanders works with incoming patients as a Linkage to Care Coordinator. He joined the origination right as Thrive Health Connection merged with Vivent Health around two years ago.
“It’s just tricky to understand what the HIV health care system is in Kansas City, so my role is to explain that in a way that the client can understand and feel empowered to do that by themselves,” Sanders said.
Sanders, and others like him, will walk patients through getting them set up with care for the first three months of care. People who have HIV measure their health through their viral load. If you have a high viral load HIV becomes more detectable.
With continuing care they find viral loads can be reduced to an undetectable level that prevents the virus from being spread. Gifford says nationally about 54% of people have an undetected viral load, but 96% of people who receive care through Vivent Health have an undetectable viral load.
“Whether they come for the clinic, the pharmacy, dentist, behavioral health, legal services, whatever that it may be that they are not going to be judged or discriminated on their identity – it’s life changing,” Sanders said.
Care is billed to the patient’s health care provider, but they will not turn people away in need of care. Vivent Health is a nonprofit organization.
Gifford said all of their money comes from billing health care providers for care, and aside from operating costs they put their money back into facilities, technology, and food for their pantry.
Sanders said he wants to make sure people know this is a place you’re not only welcome, but will hopefully leave on a healthier path in life.
“Come step through these doors and just feel our welcoming environment that you can be seen and validated and get the care that you need and deserve,” Sanders said.
The center is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. If you would like to request an appointment you can do so here.