Western Michigan Chapter

Western Michigan Chapter

(Last Updated 2007)

The idea for a West Michigan Chapter of ANAC was born in 1992.  The idea blossomed from a group of nurses who were working with HIV positive patients out of the McAuley Health Care Clinic, which was based at St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  Not only were the nurses who worked in the HIV clinic experiencing the challenges of caring for this sick population, but also those nurses who worked in home care and Hospice.  Through their networking with each other, and the sharing of the same patients, they came to the conclusion that the epidemic was upon them, and it would not be going away anytime soon.  Therefore, they felt that they should form a chapter to help educate not only the community and patients, but other health care providers as well.  In their original application to the national office dated August 7, 1992 they stated:

"To Whom It May Concern: As you are well aware HIV/AIDS has become a chronic illness with a myriad of social and economic problems.  Since April 1989, we have been actively involved in HIV/AIDS care seeing 55 persons that first year.  To date we have provided medical case management services to greater than 350 people.  As you can see we have grown immensely and the requirement/demands for education, nursing care, and resources have been overwhelming from the medical as well as the non-medical community.

Having worked with many health care providers in Grand Rapids as well as outlying counties, we have identified the need for an ANAC chapter to achieve the following goals:

a.    Provide education to medical as well as non-medical groups.
b.    Collegiate support and network
c.    Political Power.

Past activities of some of the nurses had included participation in World AIDS Day conferences and presentations having to do with Women and AIDS, presentations to local chapters of the Oncology Nursing Society, local chapters of Critical Care Nurses, HIV/AIDS in the homeless population, and in 1992 hosted a local information and recruiting get together for potential ANAC members as well as established members to address the need for a local ANAC chapter to bring multiple community agencies with the same goals to provide the best medical and continuum of care throughout the disease process.  They realized at that time, “that nursing had taken the leadership in meeting the HIV/AIDS challenge in the 1990’s, and that HIV/AIDS would create endless opportunities for nursing to expand its scope of practice across multiple care settings.”

The original members of the very first group were as follows:
•    Joyce Brown – Hassen, RN      President
•    Mia Taylor, RN                         President – elect
•    Susan Driesenga, RN                Secretary
•    Cindy Douthett                          Treasurer
•    There were also seven other members at large.

In March of  1993, the application for Chapter Charter was received at the National ANAC Office, and shortly after, the existence of a local chapter sanctioned by the National Office became a reality.

In the beginning the chapter was pretty much exclusively made up of the nursing community, and mostly from the Grand Rapids area.  Eventually social workers, pharmaceutical representatives, a couple of doctors, students, and even some of the patients as well, came on board as Associate members.  No one has ever been turned away as a member as long as the interest and dedication have been apparent.

In 1994, the formation of a new AIDS Clinic, the McClees Clinic, in Muskegon, MI, on the lake shore, brought a new nurse case manager, and eventually two more nurses, as well as membership from the Traverse City clinic called Thomas Judd, so that the coast line and the rural communities would also have ANAC representation.  The numbers of members who were nurses that dealt with the HIV population was many in most of the following years.

Over the years the chapter has participated in many AIDS Walks, sponsored many educational conferences not only to the medical community, but to the community in general, as well as providing education to clients and patients, and their families.  One of the projects that the chapter is most proud of, is having supported and sponsored two AIDS orphanages in Honduras.  Christine Frederick, RN, originally worked at McAuley Clinic in Grand Rapids as a nurse case manager, but somewhere in time she received a calling to help pediatric patients who were HIV/AIDS positive. In researching HIV in the pediatric population, she learned that there were children in undeveloped countries who were infected and were either the product of parents who had the disease and had died, or were rejected by their care givers due to the disease and the lack of resources and the stigma, thus making them “AIDS Orphans”.  With the financial and emotional backing of her family and a church, she made the decision to start an orphanage in Honduras called Montana de Luz.  She gave up her well paying and “cushy” job in Grand Rapids, and went off to start a much needed mission.  The local chapter helped to support her mission there with educational and financial support.  The original plan was to make a place for orphans to have a place to feel safe and be loved until they died from AIDS.  In the beginning, Chris was unable to get the much needed medications to treat AIDS in children, but eventually, with the help of the chapter, and the other sponsoring organizations, she was able to get limited access to antibiotics, and later, some antivirals.  Much to everyone’s surprise the children started to live instead of die, and today, a large portion of them are still alive.  When her time had come to an end for that particular orphanage, she was so committed to her mission, that she is now working on a new orphanage project in Honduras called Walking With Children.  In 2005, at the National ANAC Conference in Orlando, Florida, she was presented with the Pediatric Award, and for this, we are very proud of her.

Today, in our chapter, we only have two nurses who provide direct care and case management to people who are HIV positive.  The patients are rarely seen in home care, and Hospice is not needed as it once was, thanks to medication, and the fact that it has become a chronic illness.  The number of nursing members has grown much smaller as most of them have moved on to other areas of health care. But even though we are not all providing direct care, we continue to be dedicated to the education of others about the disease, and committed to the political impact, knowing that it isn’t going to go away any time soon, and could again rear its’ ugly head given the lack of interest on the part of the public in general, and the unstable economic times that we live in today.


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