The South Carolina Chapter
Chapter Disbanded in 2003
(Last Updated 2004)
On Wednesday evening, October 20, 1999, a group of about 40 nurses and other interested health care professionals gathered at the Vista Brewing Company in Columbia, South Carolina. Trey Fingerlin of Roche Laboratories and Dr Larry J Kirkland of the Burnside Clinic arranged for guest speaker, Richard Sowell, Editor of JANAC, to offer an overview of the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care. Local nurse practitioner Pat Derajtys, a long time member of ANAC also spoke and offered her personal support and encouragement to those in attendance to assist in the establishment of a local ANAC Chapter based in Columbia. By the time the meeting concluded, there were 6 individuals who volunteered to form an initial steering committee to begin the exploration of forming a local chapter. Those 6 core committee members were Pat Derajtys, Andrew Komensky, Barbara McKellar, Frances Hinte, Sheryl Sturkie, and Deborah Kelly.
During the month of November of 1999, Pat Derajtys had been in contact with Gail Kropf, Chapters Committee Chair of ANAC, who happened to live in Atlanta, Georgia. Gail was open to coming to Columbia to meet with our nurses to offer technical assistance in beginning the process of chapter formation. A steering committee was held to review the Chapter Application Packet. On December 9th, a second dinner meeting, again sponsored by Trey Fingerlin was held at Western Sizzler Steakhouse and Gail Kropf was flown into Columbia courtesy of Glaxo Wellcome. At this meeting, the Declaration for a Chapter In Formation was submitted by all those attending. It is also important to mention that approximately 40 new members came into ANAC as a courtesy of Dr. Larry Kirkland and Dr. Alfred Burnside who paid for all 40 memberships during this initial year.
On January 11, 2000, the core group of 6 members began the official process of formulating bylaws, setting local dues, establishing a Post Office Box, obtaining a FEIN number, and began planning for the required 4 meetings per year. In the meantime, this small core group of nurses became very busy with developing a mailing list, setting up an ANAC booth at the local HIV/STD Conference, publishing a first newsletter, and contacting pharmaceutical reps. We finalized our plans for our 4th dinner meeting that was held on March 21, 2000, entitled, “HIV and Fatigue” sponsored by Debra Machen of Ortho-Biotech. We also invited a local well-known activist, Sam Hunter, to come and speak to our group about his experience with HIV infection.
By mid-May, only 7 months after our first initial meeting, a slate of officers had been selected, ballots were cast, officers elected, a checking account was opened and the South Carolina CIF was officially ready to submit the Application for Chapter Charter to the National Board of Directors. Our first group of elected officers were: Andrew Komensky, President; Sheryl Sturkie, President-Elect; Christine Brown, Secretary; Frances Hinte, Treasurer; and Pat Derajtys, Barbara McKellar, Yvonne Munroe, and Kristi McLauchlin as Directors-at-Large. During this month, the CIF received calls of well wishes from Lisa Fox in the National Office and from Adele Webb, ANAC President.
By fall of 2000, various members of the ANAC South Carolina CIF were sitting on various Ryan White Consortia groups, on the planning committee for the Annual SC HIV/STD Conference, and at other prestigious and highly visible work groups in the Columbia, SC area. The SC Application for Chapter Charter had been submitted to Gail Kropf who was to forward it on to the ANAC Board of Directors for approval. While the hot and humid summer months lingered on, members realized that if were to be accepted as a new ANAC Chapter, we would be receiving our Charter almost a year to the date of our initial meeting a year previous. It was also noted that this occasion would take place during the Annual HIV/STD Conference and it was then decided, that the SC Membership would sponsor and set up the First Anniversary Celebration of our young organization.
On October 19, 2000, the ANAC South Carolina CIF celebrated its one-year Anniversary. To celebrate all of our hard work and successes, the CIF hosted special guests Helen Miramontes and Cliff Morrison, who flew in from San Francisco and Las Vegas to be our evening’s Keynote Speakers. Many words of wisdom were shared by both Helen and Cliff but the most poignant comment made was Cliff spoke of the virtues of leadership stating, “leadership is only as good as the people you surround yourself with – peacemakers, good listeners, compassionate self-actualized individuals are the ones who draw people together – towards a common purpose and cause. Cliff likewise warned, “begin now to form alliances, coalitions for growth and support because those leaders who thrive on enlarged egos, smitten with the “look what I did” rather than the “look what WE did” will drain the life and energy out of the hardest working people – and in this business – we have an obligation to bring life and energy to those we serve and care for.” After significant applause and appreciation, Gail Kropf, newly elected member of the National Board of Directors made a special presentation on behalf of Adele Webb, ANAC President - - the SC Chapter Charter! It was official.
Due to time and financial issues, the only member of the new official ANAC Chapter who could attend the National Conference in Puerto Rico was Pat Derajtys. During our November 2000 meeting, Pat provided a conference update and shared information gleaned from a motivational speaker on member support and services. This information was to be utilized by the local board to help retain members this upcoming year, because without the continued financial support by Drs. Kirkland and Burnside, there was no guarantee how many members would remain active and participating.
The December 2000 meeting was held on December 12th at the Women’s Correctional Institution on Broad River Road. The Department of Corrections approved our request to bring in food and beverages as well as individual gift and goodie bags for the 40+ HIV infected women inmates. SKB and Merck supported the evening’s food and beverages.
In January of 2001, the SC Board began to face the realization that many of its 40+ members would not be renewing their memberships in ANAC. The general consensus at that time was that although the dinner meetings were very well attended (30+ members each meeting) these nurses just couldn’t afford $70 at this particular time of the year, with the Holidays demanding more than ever of heard earned monies. Despite the dwindling numbers, the Chapter continued to meet and plan for a variety of events throughout the year; Dinner with Friends, AIDS Walk, regular dinner meetings, and PALSS (Palmetto AIDS Life Support Services) 15th Anniversary.
Dinner meetings continued to be held bi-monthly and in June of 2001, Chapter President Andrew Komensky informed the Board that he would be moving to Alaska to work for Indian Health Services in a small remote town in Arctic Alaska called Barrow. A rush to fill his shoes led members into unchartered waters as the President-Elect didn’t feel qualified to step into the President role and with some begging and arm-twisting, Russ Stocker became the 2nd President of our small Association, with Deborah Kelly serving as President-elect.
A second anniversary dinner was held in October of 2001 with only a dozen or so ANAC members and a near dozen Pharmaceutical reps in attendance as well. The Chapters membership numbers continue to decline and with such small numbers, it becomes more difficult to plan programs for our nurses and members. A bit of bright news is that Pat Derajtys represented our Chapter at the ANAC Conference in Minnesota and came back with a full report of activities and updates. And for the second straight year, the Chapter sponsored a meeting and Christmas Social gathering with HIV+ women at the Correctional Institute.
2002 was not a good year for the Chapter. Membership began to dwindle down to nothing although there were still plenty of nurses who came to dinner meetings, but the issue continued to be the cost of membership, and with fewer national members, people stepping into officer positions became challenging. Despite the obstacles, the Chapter continued to meet as often as possible and the pharmaceutical reps continued to support our efforts. Deborah Kelly was elected President for 2003, and Pat Derajtys won an Orthobiotech Anemia Scholarship and attended the National Conference in New York City.
And as the story goes with some Chapters, there just never seemed to be much interest in nurses renewing their National memberships despite the enthusiasm and motivation of those in leadership positions. And as with many other places around the country, the interest just wasn’t there anymore. HIV/AIDS seemed to take the back seat when attention was placed onto other international and global concerns. While the numbers of people living with HIV are ever on the increase in South Carolina, especially amongst our ethnic and minority populations – there is little attention and impetus given from those political leaders who have the ability to shift resources towards those in greatest need. And with that, the South Carolina Chapter, despite all its endeavors and well-meaning intentions, and despite the increasing numbers of people living with HIV disease, the Chapter disbands in 2004 with only 7 National members throughout the state. Our short lived existence was a positive experience for many of us, and yes, we met the ANAC Mission - through our lived experiences with each other and with our clients. We look forward to the day when energies and resources will once again bring forth a renewed enthusiasm – when that day comes, we will be waiting to reorganize into yet again a strong and viable chapter of the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care. However, until that time, rest assured that we haven’t disappeared – we’re still doing the hard work we have always been doing – we haven’t any other choice. As long as there are people infected with HIV/AIDS in South Carolina, there will always be nurses in AIDS Care.
Pat Derajtys and Andrew Komensky, CIF Co-Chairs (1999-2000)
Andrew Komensky (2000-2001)
Russ Stocker (2001-2002)
Deborah Kelly (2002 –2004)
Chapter Founding Members: Melinda Anderson, Deborah Atkinson, Ann Austin, Rebecca Aydelette, Christine Brown, Debra Bugenske, Mable Buntin, Rebecca Carr, Pat Derajtys, Trey Fingerlin, Rachel Forbes, Patricia Franklin, Frances Hinte, Sheila Jackson, Valjean Jenkins, Elaine Katko, Deborah Kelly, Andrew Komensky, Malinda Martin, Elaine Matters, Kari McDougall, Barbara McKellar, Peggy Morrison, Kathleen Moser, Yvonne Munro, Tiffany O’Berry, Louise Penn, Lonnie Peppers, Sheila Robertson, Richard Sowell, Russ Stocker, Sheryl Sturkie, Debra Thames, Margaret Todd, Joann Wouri.