Ursuline Piazza directly addresses gaps in service for the HIV-positive community, targeting vulnerable populations living with HIV/AIDS, such as indigent individuals, the mentally ill, and those struggling with substance abuse, as well as their families/caregivers and health care providers. Ursuline Piazza is not in competition with other HIV service organizations, but rather serves as an extra safety net to help keep individuals linked to care.
The goals of Ursuline Piazza are to: 1) retain clients in care to increase health and lower their viral load; 2) educate clients about the virus and about social service systems to increase their health literacy and self-advocacy; and 3) decrease their social isolation, connecting them with a community of others living with HIV.
Founded by St. Angela Merici in Italy in 1535 in order to improve the quality of life of all people, the mission of the Ursuline Sisters of Cleveland is to transform society through contemplation, justice and compassion. They meet this mission through a commitment to serving the oppressed and exploited through actions that dignify and meet needs. In an attempt to embrace all of those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS, the term “Piazza” was specifically chosen for this program. A piazza is an open, public area found in many Italian cities. Born in Brescia, Italy, Ursuline foundress St. Angela Merici directed her followers to be “living piazzas,” where all are welcome.
In 1991, St. Augustine Manor opened a special unit for HIV-positive patients. It primarily served as a hospice program because many people died. As medications improved, HIV was no longer a death sentence. Since 2007, the Ursuline Sisters of Cleveland has partnered with St. Augustine Manor to assist these patients in their transition back into the community. These patients needed assistance in navigating doctor appointments, finding new housing, and understanding the social services system. Ursuline Piazza services have now expanded to include individuals from throughout the Greater Cleveland community, serving HIV-positive adults from Cuyahoga County who are low-income (at or below the federal poverty level), chemically dependent, minority, from emerging sub-populations, and suffering from mental health issues.
Educating and supporting HIV-positive people to live better, healthier lives.
We will promote the well-being of those affected and infected with HIV/AIDS regardless of the individual’s race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or religious affiliation. This will be achieved through just and compassionate leadership, education, supportive services and advocacy.