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Orange County 1988 : A Look at the Year Ahead : MEDICINE : AIDS Epidemic Will Continue as the No. 1 Concern

December 28, 1987|Lanie Jones \f7

The AIDS epidemic will continue to be the top concern for county health officials in 1988, with the number of residents dead or infected with the disease expected to number more than 600 as the year begins.

Disturbed by the rising AIDS toll--some 398 deaths here by Dec. 17--health officials are planning a major conference Feb. 25 to educate doctors, dentists and other health workers on caring for patients with acquired immune deficiency syndrome.

"People well informed still have an element of doubt about how infectious AIDS is" and when they should wear gloves or protective eye wear, said Dr. L. Rex Ehling, county public health director.

Also in 1988, county health officials predict an expanded effort by private doctors to test patients who may be at risk for AIDS and they are hoping that private agencies may finally establish a small residence for terminally ill AIDS patients.

Other plans: UCI Medical Center expects to complete five pioneering brain graft surgeries that may provide hope for those with Parkinson's Disease. Also, UCI and Childrens Hospital of Orange County are expected to renew an agreement in which the university will provide resident doctors for the county's only pediatric hospital.

The year will also be marked by major medical construction projects:

If the coastal commission approves, Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian will break ground March 5 for a $14.5-million cancer center, expected to open in 1989.

Early in the year, UCI will open two new outpatient clinics, a $6.6-million building on the Irvine campus and a $2.6-million building at its Orange hospital.

And American Medical International of Beverly Hills will hold topping-off ceremonies Jan. 5 for an $80-million Irvine hospital expected to open in spring, 1989.

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