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November 21, 2002


Ponce de Leon Center Selected As a Top HIV Center by University HealthSystem

ATLANTA -- The Ponce de Leon Center, one of the largest and most comprehensive outpatient HIV treatment facilities in the country, has been recognized as one of the premier HIV care clinics in the United States, according to the HIV Ambulatory Care Clinical Benchmarking Executive Summary published in September.

The study, conducted by the University HealthSystem Consortium (UHC), recognized the Ponce Center, which is part of the Grady Health System and the Emory University Division of Infectious Diseases, for its comprehensive care, systematic antiretroviral therapy education protocol, and routine clinician feedback. The Ponce de Leon Center was one of three clinics chosen after a study of the care provided by 32 university clinics nationwide. The other selected sites were the University of Utah’s Division of Infectious Diseases and the University Hospital and Medical Center at Stony Brook in Long Island, New York.

"This study confirms that the Grady infectious disease program at the Ponce de Leon Center provides exceptional health care to men, women and children with HIV infection," said Jeffrey L. Lennox, MD, associate professor of medicine at the Emory University School of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, and medical director at the Ponce de Leon Center. "It also shows that the Grady Health System, Emory University, state of Georgia and local governments have nurtured a degree of excellence here that can serve as a model for other care providers across the country."

The study assessed the variations in care provided to HIV-infected individuals in an ambulatory care setting and identified opportunities for quality improvement. As part of the study, a minimum of 40 patients were selected and a patient log submitted, along with completion of a cross-sectional survey on clinic organizational structure and processes, and a retrospective patient-level medical record abstraction tool. Patients who participated in the study were 18 years of age and older, had tested positive for the human immunodeficiency virus, and first visited the study institution for HIV care more than six months before their most recent visit.

Quality indicators for the study included disease monitoring, opportunistic infection prophylaxis, health maintenance/preventive care, antiretroviral therapy, and emergency department visits and hospitalizations.

Most patients who participated in the study were white or African-American, and the mean patient age was 41.2 years. Women accounted for almost 30 percent of the cases submitted. Men who had sex with men, high-risk heterosexual contact, and intravenous drug use were documented as HIV exposure routes in 38.7 percent, 26.6 percent, and 16.2 percent of patients, respectively.

The study determined that patients were less likely to have an emergency department visit if there was documentation in the medical record of the degree to which the patient adhered to therapy, no documentation of chronic mental illness, no documentation of illegal drug use, and if the clinic used peer education. CD4 cell count, a measure of immune system function, improved significantly as time on antiretroviral therapy increased.

About the Ponce de Leon Center

The Ponce de Leon Center, located in midtown Atlanta, houses the Adult and Pediatric Infectious Disease Clinics of the Grady Health System and Emory University School of Medicine. The center provides care for approximately 4,000 patients (including 300 children), 99 percent of whom are infected with HIV, representing about half of the HIV-infected patients in Atlanta.

The center provides patients with a variety of services in one location, including a primary care clinic, a women’s clinic, a family clinic, dental clinic, mental health clinic, clinical research area, infustion area, pharmacy, and subspecialty clinics, including ophthalmology and dermatology.. The center also houses community AIDS- related organizations and services, including Project Open Hand, AIDS Atlanta, and an office of the Department of Family and Children Services.

The Ponce de Leon Center opened in 1993, and has had more than 36,000 patient visits since 2001. Grady Memorial Hospital inpatients with HIV and AIDS are treated within a special immunology ward attended by Emory physicians.

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