Southeastern Michigan Chapter
(Last Updated 2007)
The Southeast Michigan chapter of ANAC was founded in 1995 by a group of dedicated HIV/AIDS nurses working on one of the first wards dedicated to HIV/AIDS patients at Harper Hospital in Detroit. The head nurse on that floor at that time was a woman named Joanne James. She, along with several other staff nurses, worked diligently to create a support group for nurses caring for AIDS patients. In the early ‘80s, the face of HIV was literally synonymous with AIDS and it was not until 1995, when protease inhibitors hit the market, that we started to see a glimmer of hope for those infected with the virus. However, physical and emotional damage was devastating at that point, not only to the patients but to many of the nurses who worked in the early days with patients with AIDS who died from complications of the disease. Joanne M. James (now deceased), along with other early chapter members, put in long hours working their regular shifts, and then, spent additional hours after work pulling together a support group for nurses which turned out to be the Southeast Michigan Chapter of ANAC. Since that time, Joanne James continues to be memorialized yearly with the “Joanne M. James Award” presented by our chapter to a deserving group or individual who has supported the HIV/AIDS community throughout the year.
Many of the early members are still working for the continuation and betterment of our chapter today. We have grown from an original number of approximately 15 nurses to well over 30 active (attend bimonthly meetings) and semi-active (participate in special projects throughout the year) members. We celebrate with each other and share our HIV expertise yearly through a bi-yearly HIV/AIDS Conference for nurses and healthcare providers. Alternating with our conference for providers, we provide a HIV/AIDS Prevention Conference for people in the greater Detroit area of Southeastern Michigan. Most of the speakers for our conferences are from our own chapter. We also have the ANAC of Southeastern Michigan Educational / Journal Club which meets bimonthly. The only stipulation for the presenter is he/she must have at least 1-year clinical experience in HIV/AIDS and /or use an article from a scientific journal specific to some aspect of HIV/AIDS care.
If there is one thing that I would say contributes most to our success as a chapter it is our collective encouraging disposition that allows us to promote each other into positions of leadership. We are really an open group … and I think this speaks to the maturity and wisdom of those who have gone before us who originally created our chapter. We encourage others to shine in their own areas of expertise. We are very good at mentoring new “blood” into positions of importance within the chapter. We are a team and we accomplish our goals through teamwork. We support each other and each other’s projects and successes.
We are extremely blessed with professional individuals whose life work is dedicated to HIV/AIDS care both nationally and internationally. In the past two years we have, as a chapter, supported HIV/AIDS care in Africa. In 2004, two of our members went to Africa (Tanzania) to teach a two week course to Tanzanian nursing faculty about the care and treatment of HIV/AIDS.
I am very proud of the Southeastern Michigan Chapter of ANAC and all of its members including members from the Midwest AIDS Training and Education Center (MATEC) and all of the help and support they provide to us throughout the year. They contribute to our chapter by providing CEU awards for speakers brought in for our bimonthly chapter meetings; they invite our membership to participate in and provide expertise to community educational projects – thereby increasing the visibility of ANAC in the Detroit –metropolitan area. It is my hope that our chapter will continue to grow and be a shining light for the HIV positives in Southeastern Michigan as well as an inspiration for other newly forming chapters throughout the country. For more information on the Southeastern Michigan Chapter of ANAC please contact Sharon Valenti, ANAC 2007-2008 Chapter President firstname.lastname@example.org.