Currently, county residents with HIV seek care at Cooper Hosptial-University Medical Center in Camden or at Kennedy's clinic in Voorhees, said Walter Trommelen, the county's public health coordinator. About 150 HIV patients from Burlington County, some from as far away as Browns Mills or Wrightstown, get treatment at Kennedy, he said.
``It presents a barrier to care,'' Trommelen told the freeholders yesterday. ``This is clearly a very important type of medical service.''
In Burlington County, 451 people are reported to have HIV or AIDS. That figure is consistent with other counties in the state, Trommelen said. Unless they are receiving Medicaid, patients treated at the new center would be charged based on their ability to pay, he said.
Among the newer treatments available at the satellite office will be clinical trials involving protease inhibitors, a potent anti-retroviral drug used in combination with other drugs, said Nancy Gerrity, a nurse and health promotion director for Community Nursing Services.
Funding for the Early Invervention Program comes a federal program and the New Jersey Department of Health.
``All we need to do is bring in the specialists,'' Gerrity said. ``It's not going to cost the county a dime.''
David Condoluci, chief of infectious diseases at Kennedy Memorial Hospitals-Stratford, said that HIV or AIDS patients need to visit the doctor about once or twice a month, depending on the stage of the disease. That can be difficult for an indigent patient, given South Jersey's poor system of public transportation, he said.
``We're trying to bring the program to the patient so they don't have to travel so far,'' he said. ``What we hope to establish there is medical care and allied support care, including nutrition, testing and counseling for HIV, and providing research studies.''