As a Doctor of Nursing, Nurse Practitioner Rodney Fox came to Desert AIDS Project from a healthcare center in Atlanta called Pride Medical, where his daily practice included caring for both the LGBT community and those living with HIV or AIDS. In addition to putting his knowledge and experience to work as an Adjunct, Assistant Professor at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., Rodney has also practiced emergency room and prison care as well.
We asked Rodney three questions, to get his view of Desert AIDS Project and how we provide care.
Q: What do you think is the greatest driving force today at Desert AIDS Project?
Rodney Fox: At D.A.P. and across the nation, more patients have access to care due to the Affordable Care Act. As a nurse practitioner, I love the idea that more patients can see us and get the treatment they need, whether it’s for primary care or for HIV-specialty services. It only makes sense that D.A.P. continues expanding to meet the needs of so many who may have been previously under-served or not served at all.
Q: Why did you choose AIDS care as your specialty?
RF: Over the years, I’ve had a number of experiences that made a profound impact on me in providing HIV and AIDS care. For instance, in Atlanta I cared for an African-American woman, who had been recently diagnosed with AIDS. She had been given printed materials but no oral education about her disease. When she started crying, I learned that she was illiterate, so none of those materials meant anything to her. That was a powerful, “don’t take anything for granted” moment for me.
Q: How has your role as a HIV/AIDS medical provider changed over the years?
RF: First and foremost, I believe I’m an educator and coach to my patients, to help them more fully understand their disease. Years ago, the AIDS care community didn’t think long term. Today, patients have a near normal life expectancy. So, we’re seeing lots of issues related to the normal aging process, like heart problems, high cholesterol, hypertension, and much more. So, we’ve gone from concentrating our energies on keeping people alive and comfortable for as long as possible, to helping them understand ALL of their health needs over the long term – not only their HIV or AIDS – so they can live the longest, healthiest lives possible.