If it were not for Adam Kutrumbos, 48-year old Brent Pitchford says he “would be wandering around like a lost duck.”
They met almost one year ago. Adam is a client advocate for Cascade AIDS Project’s CareLink program, which works with people newly diagnosed with the human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, including low-income and homeless people who have little or no medical care.
Brent wrote a letter from the Oregon State Penitentiary where he was serving a 20-month sentence for a sexual offense charge. HIV positive for the last 15 years, Brent asked Adam what services would be available to him once he was released on Dec. 7.
So began a yearlong exchange through letters (Oregon prisoners do not have access to e-mail and are rarely allowed to use the telephone). They began Brent’s applications to the Oregon Health Plan and CareOregon for health insurance, his Social Security disability application, and finding a doctor.
Adam never wrote that he worked for CAP during the correspondence, knowing that Brent’s mail would be read by others. Working through mail presented other difficulties. Many topics and documents Adam and Brent discussed were complicated and required thorough explanation that would have been less stressful with a phone call or meeting.
“(I’m thinking) how many phone calls and how many more letters is this going to take? How am I going to say this correctly without ruining any confidentiality?” Adam says.
Adam repeatedly requested that the Department of Corrections send him Brent’s medical records, as well as certification that he is HIV positive (such information is not given directly to the inmate). With a requirement that people in the CareLink program be HIV positive, Adam needed substantive proof. Continue reading