Hepatitis C Awareness

Summary Points
• The importance of knowing about Hepatitis C
• How it is transferred

Hepatitis C is one of several viruses that can cause viral hepatitis, which is an inflammation of the liver. The liver performs many life-sustaining functions for the human anatomy that include breaking down blood so that the body and other essential organs can receive the nutrients needed to function properly. Hepatitis C, if left untreated, can slowly damage the liver over many years, often progressing from inflammation to permanent, irreversible scarring, which is also known as cirrhosis of the liver. Often, people have no signs or symptoms of liver disease or have only mild symptoms for years or even decades until they develop cirrhosis. As such, it is of great importance for our communities to understand and minimize risk behaviors that increase their exposure to Hepatitis C.

Hepatitis C is spread mostly by human blood-to-blood exposure. HCV is spread primarily by human blood-to-blood contact as to when a person’s blood comes into direct contact with an open bleeding area on another person, or by a contaminated blood transfusion or tissue/organ transplant, or needle. The most common way to get HCV is caused by sharing contaminated injection drug use equipment.

Studies have shown, that most people infected with hepatitis C do not know they are infected, have no symptoms, and lead normal lives though they will have some mild damage to their liver over time, but not enough to make them sick. Living with HCV can also make a person more likely to get liver cancer than those without chronic viral hepatitis.

As per the CDC National Hepatitis C Prevention Strategy, “The most effective means to prevent HCV infection and its consequences is to integrate HCV prevention activities into existing services, such as those for the prevent and treatment of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and substance abuse.” Persons with certain risk behaviors, including men who have sex with men (MSM) and persons who inject drugs (PWID), tend to have higher rates of viral hepatitis when compared to other organizations. Because HIV, HBV, and HCV share common modes of transmission, on average, one-third of HIV-infected persons are co-infected with HBV or HCV. Viral hepatitis C infection can persist for decades without symptoms; therefore, a vast majority of infected Americans remain unaware of their infection status and are not receiving necessary care and treatment. As a result, viral hepatitis is a leading cause of liver disease in the United States and the most common reason for liver transplantation.

Awareness of HCV is an important public health issue that Empowerment Resource Center actively advances in our communities through the following initiatives: promoting regular screening for Hep C, providing risk-reduction counseling, offering outpatient substance abuse therapy, and prevention programming that promotes safe syringe and injection practices. We believe that all of these components are paramount to the overall health strategy for decreasing health disparities. In addition, Empowerment Resource Center also strives to maintain effectiveness in linking Hep C clients to treatment and care. Active and timely linkage to care, following the diagnosis, is essential for improving health outcomes one client at a time.

For more information on Hepatitis C, please contact Empowerment Resource Center at 404-526-1145 or http://www.erc-inc.org/.

Tanesha Taylor
Director of Programmatic Operations, Empowerment Resource Center

Asset Management

The Lease Transfer Agreement clearly states The FDHA’s responsibility for ensuring that all facilities currently operated by Grady are properly maintained and operated. This mandate goes beyond functioning as a landlord, but rather speaks to an expected standard of care for all. The FDHA and Grady must work collaboratively to ensure that all Grady facilities go beyond the minimum standard of “fit for use” so that the quality of Grady facilities is consistent with that of any other high-functioning hospitals.

Innovative Strategies and Initiatives

The most recent pandemic brought gaping healthcare disparities to light. As Georgia’s larg- est safety net hospital (and only safety net hospital in Metro Atlanta due to the closure of Wellstar Atlanta Medical Center), Grady continues to see increased service demands. Often, the medically indigent and underserved use the emergency room for primary care services. Issues like housing insecurity and poverty place additional strain on the Grady Health System, particularly when other factors (outside of the hospital walls) inform one’s overall wellbeing. As Grady continues to seek ways to improve health outcomes in the community, The FDHA is tasked with identifying innovative ways to support Grady’s efforts and broaden its reach into targeted sectors of the community. This pillar also speaks to The FDHA’s efforts to work collaboratively through grantmaking with organizations whose mission, vision, and work align with The FDHA’s priorities and goals. Through structured strategic partnerships, focused and aligned grant making, and ongoing community engagement, The FDHA will assume a leadership role in the health ecosystem.

Stakeholder Engagement

There are many stakeholders within the Fulton/DeKalb health ecosystem. Stakeholders can be characterizedas individuals, groups, or organizations whose efforts either inform healthcare outcomes or are impacted by healthcare outcomes. Grady remains The FDHA’s most important partner in this effort and a key stakeholder in the health ecosystem. As the daily operators of all of Grady’s health facilities, hundreds of thousands of patients per year (more than 700,000) are impacted. Maintaining consistent communication and collaboration with Grady’s Executive Leadership Team and staff is central to the success of The FDHA.


Similarly, The FDHA’s alignment and support of Grady’s population health and community engagement efforts are invaluable. As a grantor, The FDHA has an extensive network of community-based partners that work daily to provide direct services and/or support various health priorities. Many of these organizations provide services directly related to social determinants of health (i.e., housing, education, transportation, etc.) thereby adding value to the continuum of care. As The FDHA seeks to embrace a more prominent role as a convener, organizer, and facilitator in the health ecosystem, engaging stakeholders with purpose and intentionality becomes increasingly important.

Organizational Capacity & Accountability

The FDHA’s obligations, relative to its role as owners of the facilities operated by Grady and stewards of county resources entrusted to Grady, require the requisite skills of staff to execute key administrative and regulatory functions. Establishing and maintaining a staffing model that adequately responds to the needs of the agency is vital. Of equal importance is the establishment and maintenance of high-functioning financial management systems and general operations controls. Critical front and back-office functions should be insulated from staff turnover or shifts in organizational priorities. The provision of ongoing staff development opportunities will ensure that team members stay abreast of industry standards, best practices, and leading-edge opportunities. In addition, the curation and maintenance of financial management best practices ensure organizational accountability and responsiveness.

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