Attallah Harris believes she’s continuing work her mother did. Harris’ mother worked with HIV patients until she retired. Her mother’s best friend died from AIDS in 1999, and Harris later discovered he worked at a company that became affiliated with RAIN Oklahoma before he died.
Now, Harris is an outreach caseworker with RAIN.
“I took it as a sign. It’s my calling,” she said.
RAIN — Regional Aids Intercommunity Network — provides compassionate support to members of the community who have been diagnosed with AIDs, are HIV-positive or are dealing with a wide range of other diseases.
The organization works with all age groups, including the elderly and disabled. Clients’ ages range from 6 months to 98 years.
“There are thousands of disabled individuals in the state of Oklahoma, but because (Medicaid) coverage wasn’t expanded, many of those aren’t served,” said Executive Director Julie Lovegrove.
RAIN’s Advantage Program is Medicare-funded, so clients must qualify for Medicaid coverage. The program helps with treatment of clients who are 65 and older, disabled adults and those who are 21 and under who have physical disabilities.
Clients in the Advantage Program receive assistance with many needs, including nursing and personal care, prescriptions, home-delivered meals and special medical needs or supplies.
Clients who qualify also may get assistance through the Ryan White Program. For someone without insurance, their monthly income must be below $1,915; with insurance, their income must be below $3,830.
The Ryan White Program was created in memory of a boy who after being diagnosed with HIV in the earlier years of its discovery, was ostracized from his classmates and friends.
Those accepted into this program are provided help with medical, dental, medication, transportation and housing services. Medical services and other needs are available for the patients, their care givers and children in the household.
Case workers, like Harris, are passionate about helping clients. Many directly or indirectly knew someone affected with AIDS or HIV.
“We’re here because our heart is driven to assist a population,” said Kathy Ackerman, RAIN’s Ryan White Program superviser.
Many case workers have worked with the clients for a number of years and have become familiar with each person on an individual basis.
“If a need isn’t being filled, they fill it,” Lovegrove said. “We are all very aware that there’s not a significant difference between our clients and us.”
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How to help
Donations to RAIN Oklahoma can be mailed to 5001 N Pennsylvania Ave., Suite 100, Oklahoma City, OK 73112. For more information, go to www.rainoklahoma.org or call 232-2437.