Comprehensive Care Center to stay in current facility for now

Nashville's Comprehensive Care Center is staying put - at least for now.

In October 2008 the nationally-ranked provider of HIV outpatient adult medical care and treatment previously sent out notices to patients and the community that their address would be changing in December and move to a new location on Charlotte Ave. on Jan. 5, 2009. The CCC has not sent out new notices to let people know that the planned move never occurred, aside from a posting on the center's Web site.

The Hospital Corporation of America (HCA), which owns the space occupied by the CCC, planned to begin construction on the space at the end of last year but  put a hold on the project at the last minute allowing the CCC to remain in the building on a month-to-month basis. But, some CCC officials said that puts the center in a new predicament.

"We don't want to be under that kind of stress, so we're looking for a new place," said CCC Director of Education Victoria Harris.

Harris said officials hope to find a new space in about six months at which point they will send out a notice of the new location.

If the center does move to a new location in the near future, it will also be temporary, Harris said. Officials from the CCC and Nashville CARES, the region's leading provider of HIV prevention education for people living with HIV/AIDS, have been planning to combine their facilities into one building once they've raised enough funds to purchase land on which to build.

Officials from the two organizations say the shared facility will likely be complete in three to five years. It  will be owned and managed by a new foundation created by CARES and the CCC to be called the Comprehensive-CARES Foundation.

Joseph Interrante, CEO of Nashville CARES, said a new location has not been chosen but a Co-Location Committee, comprised of CCC and CARES board members and senior managers, is in negotiations over different locations.

"We have identified two to three locations which at this point would be a good place for us to co-locate," Interrante said.

"Since we were no longer under pressure created by the CCC’s need to move in December, we were able to move to a more traditional longer-term model and fundraising plan. This makes good sense especially in the current economic climate."

Interrante said the process will likely happen in three phases; identifying a site that best serves the groups' needs, raising the funds to purchase the land and then constructing the facility.

In addition to the CCC and CARES, Vanderbilt clinical HIV research programs and the Nashville Pharmacy are in dialogue to be located in the new facility. Other community HIV agencies may also have space there.

"We are certainly open to working with others who would need some office space," Interrante said. "The vision of the facility is also that the meeting and the training space would also be available for use by other organizations on a function basis, them being a part of the facility."

Interrante made it clear that each agency will retain its autonomy and distinct culture and identity.  "This is not a merger," he said.

Patients and clients who receive services from one agency but not the other will not be expected or pressured to receive services from both. The programs operate separately and independently although there can be coordination and collaboration between programs when a client chooses to receive support from both.

CARES will apply this experience to this new partnership with the CCC. In addition, relationships that CARES and/or the CCC have with other HIV medical providers and social service organizations in Middle Tennessee will continue in their current form.

Currently 50 to 60 percent of the patients and clients served by the CCC and CARES receive services from both organizations. The Comprehensive-CARES Foundation will offer these patients and clients increased access to a full spectrum of care, education and support under one roof.

But to see their goals come to fruition, money must be raised now Harris said, and that isn't easy in this economic climate.

"(CCC Chief Medical Officer) Dr. Raffanti and board members are probably not sleeping at night trying to figure this out," Harris said. "It’s constantly on their mind to get us settled. The hard part is, eventually we do need to raise a lot of money and now is not a good time to raise money. Its going to be very tough."

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