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Why Do I Think AIDS Network Needs To Be Defunded By State Of Wisconsin?

December 15, 2009

There has been a long simmering debate in south central Wisconsin about what the future of AIDS Network should be given the many problems it seems unable to overcome due to either limited abilities, or a seemingly lack of desire to construct a more competent organization.  The fact that the State of Wisconsin has become more involved in keeping an eye on AIDS Network, while demanding that the agency try to adhere to a more professional tone, should have been a shot over the bow to Karen Dotson, the latest Executive Director of the organization.  But it seems that over and over, regardless of the need to perform to a higher level of competence, AIDS Network  seems to think that if they hunker down and take the blows all will pass and they can resume their lackluster style of  performance. 

This year there has been a series of media stories in both the mainstream press and numerous blogs that have demonstrated the problems facing AIDS Network, and by extension the clients of the agency.  The stories have ranged from the Network not truly providing services to all 13 counties they purport to serve, not making sure the doors to the agency are locked at night thus protecting confidential client records, and failing to provide complete data about the cost of their fundraising, or how the money they raise is spent.  Another complaint has centered on not keeping complete records as dictated by the State for clients.  This is always explained away as being a software problem–one has to ask though how ARCW, which uses the same software, was successfully able to implement it in a matter of weeks, and the AIDS Network is several years in to it and still can’t manage to do their charting correctly?  This writer would also express concern over how often the agency claims that the grant monies that were once available continue to dry up, leaving the budget more and more strained.  It couldn’t be perhaps that the grant writing process at the AN is flawed?–these monies are just disappearing.  They are going to someone, just not the AIDS Network.  Whatever the concern, it all adds up to a picture of an agency spinning out of control–or one that has already been off the road for some time and no one has bothered to call the police to report the incident!

For many months I have kept a watch on the stories, and though I posted several times on this matter, for the most part I kept my powder dry.  Until tonight.  After reading  a post on WisconsinHIV.com (a large portion posted below) detailing the waste of dollars and time spent by a case manager (one who is supposed to have been spending time working with clients) it is most clear to me that there is a rudderless non-profit floating aimlessly in the waters, making news only when the lack of a firm hand on the controls lands the agency in still more troubled waters.  Whether it be the inability of Ms. Dotson to shake up an agency which is moribund and listless, or if the blame falls on the feckless Board of Directors, one thing is clear.  The clients, who through no fault of their own, are left without services and the committed staff that they need during these difficult times that they face.

Enough IS enough.

Therefore there is no other option left for me than to come to the conclusion that AIDS Network needs to be defunded by the State of Wisconsin, and the clients that need and deserve service be shepherded under the credible shield of the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin.  The State of Wisconsin has allowed far too much time to elapse while the ‘same old-same old’ gets recycled by AIDS Network.   The idea that they are making a difference in the lives of clients is just not true.  What seems to be clear is that they make a great plea for donations and assistance, but then foolishly make decisions about how best to use the funds.  One friend contacted me recently via email to say, “If you are on any of [the AIDS Networks] mailing lists, you have likely noticed the wonderful full-color newsletters and brochures now–not cheap by the way–which don’t contain any more information than they used to, mind you.”   

Instead of going to work for clients while at the AIDS Network this is how one of the case managers decided to spend her day…..while being paid….with the money they beg from those who are still gullible enough to give to this embarrassing relic of a non-profit.  ( I apologize to my readers for needing to post some of the lewd topics below that this AIDS Network employee thought essential to write about.)

From WisconsinHIV.com.

AIDS Network case manager Bethany Matson is also known as (bethlynn00) on Frisky.com

On November 9th Bethany Matson spent most of her work day posting on the Frisky.com.

See for yourself:

Monday, November 9th

The work day then comes to an end and there are four more posts after 5:00 p.m.

Thursday, September 24th was another busy day.  Bethany spent another work day writing 25 posts on Frisky.com

 

The question that needs to be asked:  When does Bethany have time to serve her clients.

The next question posed by CP is when will the State Of Wisconsin defund this agency, and thereby give those who need services a real ASO to see to their needs?

18 Comments leave one →
  1. djhphoto permalink
    December 15, 2009 8:58 PM

    Jesse, this is not about creating a monopoly. After all we are not talking about a phone company here. This is about people’s lives. AIDS Network no longer is taking the needs of the clients into account. ARCW is not leading an attack, they are doing their job well and AIDS Network is not. ARCW is nationally renown and AIDS Network is known for their failures and shunning of the HIV/AIDS community. This is a no brainer.

    AIDS Network has 267 case managed clients in the southern region.
    ARCW has 260 case managed clients in the northeastern region.
    Green Bay has 4 case managers.
    AIDS Network has 10 case managers.

    FINALLY: The cost per client is 54 percent more in the AIDS Network southern region than in the ARCW northeastern region.

  2. December 15, 2009 8:10 PM

    Jesse,

    This isn’t an “ARCW attack” on AIDS Network or about a “monopoly”. As a person living with AIDS I’m disgusted by the continual defense of the indefensible when it comes to AIDS Network.

    Green Bay provides far superior ASO services than Madison. see for yourself by checking out this link:

    http://wisconsinhiv.com/?p=10008

  3. December 15, 2009 5:02 PM

    As someone who typically respects your blog it is seriously unfortunate you are buying into the ACRW’s attacks on AIDS Network in an attempt to have a monopoly of funding in the state. Madison is lucky to have an dedicated agency right here in our backyard and not based in Milwaukee. You should go look up how many case workers ACRW provides to the Green Bay area and than we can talk about under representing clients.

  4. djhphoto permalink
    December 15, 2009 3:20 PM

    I am appalled at all of the information that has been uncovered. I’ve been active with ACT UP Wisconsin and know that we want what is best for the clients. THIS is evidence that the clients continue to receive no help. Unless you are a “buddy” of the now membership driven, state funded agency you get no help.

    *Shaking my head*

    Thanks to CF for writing about this. The more people that aware of the incompetency of this organization the better. We need to be emailing and calling DHS and demanding the defunding and the swift action to have AIDS Resorce Center of Wisconsin so the clients and the greater community can finally get some real help and prevention efforts.

    Did you know that Dane County (and Madison) is the worse place to live if you have HIV/AIDS? YUP! We should all be upset by this. It affects us all. :(

  5. Ferrell Gummitt permalink
    December 15, 2009 1:55 PM

    Case worker should be fired, denied unemployment benefits and a full IT and Forensic accounting audit done of the agency.

  6. madcityrunner permalink
    December 15, 2009 12:54 PM

    This needs to have more media attention. This is awful and I can tell you as one who has given to the bike ride in the past years….NO MORE! They must now prove they have cleaned up their act, and it seems from the way you write that can only be done by shutting down and starting over.

  7. Ellen permalink
    December 15, 2009 12:49 PM

    Thanks for making so many aware of what is happening. I was turned away from their agency for asking for an HIV test about a year ago. The young person at the front desk me I was not the type of person they provide that type of test for. Seems white women about 40 are not the ‘right type’. I was shocked and angry, and waited almost half a year before being tested as a result. There must be a better way to deal with HIV issues in this city than the AIDS Network.

  8. Greg permalink
    December 15, 2009 2:54 AM

    The myths this agency has perpetuated are astounding and the careless disregard for the health and welfare of clients. Madison has become the worst place in WI for ASO Provides HIV/AIDS services. A very sad commentary for our state capital.

    Thanks, Gregory, for a thoughtful post. Your voice of reason reaches many.

  9. Terry permalink
    December 15, 2009 1:44 AM

    I stopped going to the Red Ribbon affair this past year due to some of the reasons you write about. ACT UP is making some noise about this matter, and the state should be more aggressive with over-sight. The clients suffer, my brother is one of them, and so I know first hand the agency is not what it pretends to be all about. Everyone deserves better. Both the clients and those who work to support what we thought was an agency with better management and purpose.

  10. Lori permalink
    December 15, 2009 1:39 AM

    Absolutely bizarre…the bread crumb trail is a mile wide! Heads should roll.

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