A researcher and clinician, Florence Momplaisir, MD, MSHP, joined the faculty in the Division of Infectious Diseases & HIV Medicine three years ago. She works at the Drexel Partnership Comprehensive Care Practice, the largest HIV/AIDS practice in the Philadelphia region, and at the Dorothy Mann Center at St. Christopher's Hospital for Children, to help improve outcomes for pregnant women with HIV and their infants. Momplaisir is a research mentor to medical students and students in Drexel's School of Public Health. In her own research, she has collaborated with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health and academic medical centers throughout the area, as well as across Drexel.
AN INTEGRATED MODEL OF CARE
I see women who are patients of the Partnership Practice during their pregnancy. Our HIV-prenatal program offers an integrated model of care that incorporates obstetric, HIV and psychiatric care, and case management. After delivery, I see women who get HIV care for themselves and pediatric care for their infants at the Dorothy Mann Center. Both clinics are a collaboration between the Division of Infectious Diseases & HIV Medicine, Drexel OB/GYN, and the Department of Pediatrics, which is based at St. Christopher's. It's an amazing resource for patients because they receive family-centered care in a one-stop shop.
In most health services, there may be a strong clinical system to take care of women with HIV during the pregnancy, but they tend to fall through the cracks in the postpartum period. We have a mental health counselor and a perinatal case manager on staff, too, which are both important for good outcomes. That coordination, and the fact that patients can stay in one place for their care, is unique.
I have a four-year grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to find out more about women with HIV in Philadelphia and their barriers to care. Many women are motivated during pregnancy to protect their infant from HIV, and the majority of deliveries result in babies who are HIV negative. At the same time, we see that there are still many personal and structural barriers to treatment, including a lack of resources. I'm trying to determine what these are and help figure out better interventions for these patients.
WORK ACROSS DISCIPLINES
Within Drexel I am also working on other, smaller research projects. I love that there is this collaborative atmosphere for research here. An example within the Infectious Diseases Division is that we have PhD faculty on staff. In addition to providing clinical care, we engage in basic science, translational and clinical research. The emphasis on basic science sets us apart. Ideally this kind of integration would happen everywhere, but it often doesn't.
THE IDEAL SETTING
What drew me to Drexel was the culture of diversity and the focus on women throughout the school's history. These were both important factors for me as an African-American woman, as is the fact that Drexel has invested a lot in gender-based and women-based research, which directly impacts the work I do. The fact that the Partnership Practice was already in place and the fact that it had this wonderful cooperation across departments made it the right place to be.
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