‘Often we might be the only family they have or that know about their medical issues.’
Health care providers often form close bonds with their patients. But in situations where the provider is the only one who knows about a patient’s HIV infection — and is the only one who can be there to listen — the bond is even stronger.
As practice manager for Norton Infectious Disease Specialists, Deanna Polsgrove experiences those close relationships on a regular basis.
Since joining the practice on the Norton Brownsboro campus in 2012, Deanna has focused on creating a safe and welcoming environment for patients.
“We treat our patients like family, and often we might be the only family they have or that know about their medical issues,” Deanna said. “It’s our goal to always let our patients know they are not alone. Health care is not just about treating the infection. We also have to remember to treat the person.”
While the number of people diagnosed with HIV is on a downward trend, more than 1 million people in the United States have it. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, gay and bisexual men account for 67 percent of all HIV diagnoses. African-Americans make up the largest number of HIV diagnoses.
Deanna is quick to caution against the misconception that HIV is unique to the LGBTQ community.
“We are an office that treats infections that might be more common in the LGBTQ community, but the infections are not isolated to any group based on race, color, gender identity, sexual orientation or community,” Deanna said. “We offer a safe, open and understanding environment that allows any patient to feel comfortable opening up about details of their lives.”
Norton Infectious Disease Specialists has an office in downtown Louisville as well Brownsboro. They treat a variety of conditions, including bone and joint infections; C. difficile; osteomyelitis; pneumonia; antibiotic-resistant infections; hepatitis A, B and C; shingles; and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
HIV testing is important to diagnosing the virus early and achieving better outcomes. Who should be tested and when, and where can you go for HIV testing?
HIV and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) patients don’t need a referral to get an appointment at either office location. Newly diagnosed HIV patients see a provider within 72 hours, and in some cases, the same day.
Read more about PrEP: Is this the beginning of the end to HIV?
Norton Infectious Disease Specialists provides a medical home for patients with HIV, offering these services:
- Routine HIV management labs
- STI and viral hepatitis screenings
- Physical exams
- One-on-one consultations with specialty pharmacists
- Referrals to counseling, housing, medical payment assistance and other support services
“Each patient is different, so their needs are different,” Deanna said. “Sometimes they need someone to hold their hand while they cry or cheer with when they get good news; or sometimes they just need someone to be present in the moment with them. I like to think we are able to give each patient the dedicated attention they need and deserve from their medical home.”