Suzanne Richmond-Crum Award

Hawai’i Center for AIDS Nurses to receive 2021 Suzanne Richmond-Crum Award on World AIDS Day

The nurses of the Hawai’i Center for AIDS (HICFA) have been named to receive the 2021 Suzanne Richmond-Crum Award on World AIDS Day, December 1st. This award is presented by the Hawai’i Department of Health-Harm Reduction Services Branch to recognize those who have made “outstanding contributions in providing HIV/AIDS services.” 

For more than 30 years HICFA nurses have been dedicated to the fight to end HIV and its stigma. They stepped forward to uphold the values of the nursing profession in the early days of the AIDS epidemic when fear and discrimination were widespread. They have provided essential medical care to hundreds of people living with HIV/AIDS. As nurses they have contributed to important research in numerous clinical trials for effective treatments and towards finding a cure.

Many of the nurses were involved with the early development of valuable antiretroviral medications. They have helped our understanding of HIV and its complications. Their work with AIDS Service Organizations and HIV housing programs has raised the level of health care for people living with HIV in Hawai’i.

The World Health Organization has designated 2021 the “Year of Health and Care Workers.” The nursing staff of HICFA, past and present, represents a model of dedication and self-sacrifice. It is most appropriate to recognize them this year.

HICFA and HICFA’s Clint Spencer Clinic (CSC) have always been at the forefront of HIV care. The clinic grew out of the need for comprehensive care that was often unavailable to participants in the research studies. Today approximately 500 people living with HIV/AIDS receive valuable medical services in a supportive environment from the CSC on O’ahu, Hawai’i Island, and on Maui.

The current COVID pandemic reminds us of the challenges we faced when the HIV epidemic began four decades ago. Nurses were and are the frontline health care workers, taking the brunt of the care of patients. 

Not only do nurses provide direct care, they also are able to spend time establishing meaningful bonds with their patients, seeing the whole person, not just the disease. Doctors rarely have the time for this, while nurses form the backbone of long-term services and support. 

At least 15 nurses have served at HICFA over the years; the 2021 team includes:

In commenting on the nurses of HICFA, Raymond Alejo, Community Health Nurse at Hawaiʻi Health & Harm Reduction Center, and himself a former recipient of the Suzanne Richmond-Crum Award, said they “have been and remain the pillars of healthcare workers, treating and caring for people living with HIV/AIDS.” He remarked that “the gentleness and kindness they lend to our HIV community breaks down barriers of shame… they provide a judgment-free environment…their patients are therefore able to access the care the nurses offer.”  Mr. Alejo added that they “make the world a better place by their love, kindness, and the care they give to our community.”

Christine Kapi’ioho, Director of Client Services at Kumukahi Health and Wellness on Hawai’i Island, praised the Clint Spencer Clinic nurses as “devoted to nurturing and displaying acts of kindness, even when the patient is stressed or in pain. The nurses are the glue that hold all the pieces together for a patient’s care.”

Under the leadership of Dr. Cecilia Shikuma, Hawaii Center for AIDS director, the HICFA nurses have dedicated themselves to the fight against HIV/AIDS and continue to help us strive for a cure. They are most deserving to be honored with the 2021 Suzanne Richmond-Crum Award.

As part of the annual recognition of World AIDS Day, the Harm Reduction Services Branch of the Hawai`i Department of Health gives the Suzanne Richmond-Crum award to an individual in Hawaii “for outstanding contribution in providing HIV/AIDS services.” This award is dedicated to the memory of Suzanne Richmond-Crum, the former Director of the Hawaii Seropositivity and Medical Management Program (HSPAMM), an HIV/AIDS medical care program of the STD/AIDS Prevention Branch.  Suzanne passed away in August 2004 after serving as Director of HSPAMM for more than ten years.  This award was established in memory of the competence and compassion Suzanne demonstrated in her HIV/AIDS work.

  • 2019 – Raymond Alejo
  • 2018 – Dr. Cecilia Shikuma
  • 2017 – Paul Groesbeck
  • 2016 – Chuck Lyden
  • 2015 – Cindy Medeiros
  • 2014 – Fred Cruz, PRh.
  • 2013 – Dominic Chow, MD
  • 2012 – Lenard Allen
  • 2011 – Pat Paakaula
  • 2010 – Georgie Kennedy
  • 2009 – Jon Berliner
  • 2008 – Tom Sheeran
  • 2007 – Ruth Antone
  • 2006 – Cyril Goshima, MD
  • 2005 – John Manion
  • 2004 – Jaimie Callahan
Governor David Ige presents World AIDS Day Proclamation with Raymond Alejo, 2019 Suzanne Richmond-Crum Award recipient, and Heather Lusk, Executive Director of Hawai‘i Health & Harm Reduction Center.

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