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County Has $1 Million to Divvy Up Among Providers of AIDS Hospices

February 28, 1988|DARYL KELLEY | Times Staff Writer

Three new AIDS hospices, at least one on the Westside, will be established if the County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday endorses a compromise plan that would spread more than $1 million among three competing organizations over the next 16 months.

The funding package would increase the number of beds in AIDS hospices and shelters countywide from about 50 to 68 and enable three hospice groups to qualify for other funds and expand even more, county health officials have said in recommending the plan.

But even with that increase, the number of hospice beds available to victims of acquired immune deficiency syndrome would not begin to meet the need, said John Schunhoff, analyst in the county AIDS program office.

There are about 1,600 reported cases of people suffering from AIDS in the county, while about 2,600 have died of the disease here, he said.

The supervisors, responding to protests from AIDS groups, adopted a $1.5-million hospice budget last year. They implemented the first element of the program last month by awarding without debate contracts totaling $500,000 to visiting nurse groups in Long Beach and Los Angeles.

But deciding which of the competing hospice organizations should receive grants has not been as simple.

Supervisor Deane Dana has favored grants for AIDS Project Los Angeles and Hospice Los Angeles/Long Beach, which have experience in running hospices in his district. Both probably will open new facilities in the West Hollywood and Culver City areas within two months.

Barlow Plan Backed

Supervisor Ed Edelman has backed development of a new, larger hospice with a greater variety of care at Barlow Hospital in Elysian Park near Dodger Stadium.

Edelman and Dana's health deputy, Michael Pohndorff, both said Thursday that they think the full board will support the current plan.

"We need them all," Edelman said.

Pohndorff said: "The other two programs have track records, but, on the other hand, Barlow has great potential."

The funding proposal recommended by Health Services director Robert C. Gates to the supervisors includes at least $226,000 for Hospice Los Angeles/Long Beach, which already operates the 13-bed Padua House in Long Beach and six-bed Hughes House in Hollywood.

The county grant would be used to help open an eight-bed facility in Los Angeles near Culver City, perhaps by the end of March, Executive Director Ron Wolff said.

Another House Planned

Another $248,000 would go to AIDS Project Los Angeles, which runs a six-bed shelter in West Hollywood and plans to open a 10-bed house, probably in the same area, county officials said. An APLA spokesman declined comment on the group's plans.

The two 12-month grants most likely would be supplemented with another $250,000 from the 1988-89 county budget, which would stretch the funding through June, 1989, Schunhoff said.

The plan also calls for the county to commit $400,000 next fiscal year to the fledgling AIDS Hospice Foundation at Barlow Hospital. The commitment would enhance the foundation's chances of getting about $500,000 in other government grants, including $200,000 from the City of Los Angeles, backers have argued.

"We are very satisfied with this compromise. We feel the board approval will be a big step forward," said Michael Weinstein, foundation president.

Building Needs Renovation

Gates initially recommended that the Barlow proposal be passed over because it required extensive up-front costs for building renovation and could not open until at least July. But at Edelman's request two weeks ago, Gates met with Weinstein, Edelman said.

Edelman said: "We ought to take advantage of that good setting at Barlow and make every effort to help them out. Barlow is a setting where you'll find no community objection to (hospices)."

The opening of hospices in residential communities has prompted some complaints from neighbors, he noted.

Pohndorff said Dana will support a grant for Barlow if it can provide good care for a reasonable price. The three hospices will charge the county between $132 and $138 a day, or about $50,000 a year, per bed. That compares to hospital costs of about $750 a day, health officials say.

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