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New HIV unit at East Birmingham


This article from the , November 1992, reports on the opening of the new HIV unit at the then East Birmingham Hospital, now Heartlands.

East Birmingham Hospital's new unit at the Department of Infection and Tropical Medicine was opened last month offering a wide range of clinical and other services to people with HIV and AIDS.
East Birmingham has always provided the Regional in-patient service for people with AIDS and symptomatic HIV infection and the new unit is designed to offer an equivalent out-patient facility.
The current plans are to offer four clinics every week - two of them dedicated solely to and with the other two catering for Infection and Tropical Medicine side of things.

The new unit, in a building directly opposite the main in-patient facility at Ward 29, only just precedes the opening of a new Department of Genito-Urinary Medicine at the hospital in December and the even more recent completion of the refurbishment of rooms in Ward 29 itself.

The new out-patient unit has been designed with comfort and just the right degree of informality in mind. On arrival patients and visitors walk into a comfortable reception area complete with its own sound system and will find it hard to refuse the warm hospitality then on offer. Refreshments are provided by exceptionally friendly staff and almost everyone is on first name terms with everyone else.

However, in case this is beginning to sound like the NHS version of McDonald's with its forced bonhomie, it was pointed out by of the longer-serving members of staff, Gill Cooper, that friendliness counts for nothing unless a professional service is being offered.
And anyone visiting the unit is certainly left with an impression not of just of friendliness but of a determination to get things right. Perhaps that's understandable with comparatively few patients, but there is an impression that even when snowed-under with work, the unit will be offering the same quality service.

The unit is also being used to provide a range of other services including legal advice sessions and various forms of complimentary medicine. On the afternoon of my visit the aromatherapist was in attendance and judging from the post-massage comments of her clients, this is an extremely popular option which could be usefully duplicated just about anywhere!

Every Friday is reserved as a sort of drop-in day when patients have the opportunity to discuss with staff different aspects of their treatment. Two health advisors - Rosie Hodgkins and Jan Home - are available for discussion and support.

People with HIV and AIDS are rarely ignorant of their current medical condition and it is now taken for granted that doctors working in this field are more likely to share with their patients information about treatments.

This was confirmed by Drs. Sue Drake and David White at the new unit who are clearly looking forward to developing a complete package of health care for people with HIV and AIDS at East Birmingham which will rival anything else in the country.
Certainly Dr. Drake made it clear that there will be a strong emphasis on sexual health when the new GUM clinic is opened. An emphasis on prevention and health promotion will be developed alongside the treatment and care side for sexually transmitted infections.

Interestingly, there are no plans for segregated waiting areas in the new clinic and staff are curious as to how this almost revolutionary arrangement will be recieved. The fact that no-one could think of a good reason for segreation or why it had happended in the first place (other than senstitive Victorian morality), suggests that customers won't find it much of a problem. For more information about the unit call the Department of Infection and Tropical Medicine on.

Contributed by: AIDSlifeline newsletter, 16

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