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AIDS agency facing shake-up

It's unclear how the future will play out but officials say client services will continue.

By Karen Garloch
kgarloch@charlotteobserver.com

Charlotte's oldest AIDS service organization, which seemed on the verge of closing earlier this week, will continue providing services under a different name after Friday.

Officials wouldn't share many details about the shake-up at Metrolina AIDS Project, but a federal consultant in Charlotte this week said the agency's $1.2 million in federal grants has been put “on hold.”

Dr. Jose Diaz, a consultant with the federal agency that provides some of MAP's funding, said federal money could be restored to the agency that succeeds MAP. He emphasized that the agency is not under investigation but rather a routine review.

MAP will continue to provide counseling, testing and case management for clients with HIV infection at its location on Scaleybark Road, Diaz said. But other agencies – such as Regional AIDS Interfaith Network, another AIDS service organization in Charlotte – may take over some services MAP has provided for 23 years.

Rumors spread this week that MAP was closing after its 32 employees were told Monday that they would be laid off this week. Ann White, executive director since 2005, left the agency that same day.

On Wednesday, MAP associate director Robert Oltz said the Monday announcement was no longer valid. “We thought we were going to close because we were running out of money,” he said. “We're trying to work through it.”

Oltz declined to discuss White's departure. But he said donations dropped by $200,000 from 2007 to 2008. And he said MAP also had problems opening a medical clinic in east Charlotte. The agency announced the clinic, backed by a federal grant, would open Oct. 20, but it never did. He said MAP had neglected to get approval for reimbursement by Medicare and Medicaid, health programs for the poor, elderly and disabled.

Diaz said he was sent to Charlotte last year for a routine review because MAP received $1.2 million in so-called Ryan White funding from the Health Resources and Services Administration. Subsequently, he said MAP asked him to stay for “technical assistance.”

“We have met with all MAP's funders,” Diaz said Wednesday. “They're going to continue to provide those funds. Our goal is to not interrupt service.”

Debbie Warren, RAIN's executive director, said Diaz has been assessing whether her 17-year-old agency can take over some of MAP's services.

Since 1985, MAP has grown from two employees and a $6,000 budget to more than 30 employees and a $2 million budget, serving about 2,000 clients. It receives money from federal, state and local governments, United Way of Central Carolinas and private donors.

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