California: AIDS Hospice to Close Down
March 7, 2006
Last week, AIDS Healthcare Foundation decided to close the Carl Bean House, Los Angeles County's last hospice and 24-hour nursing facility dedicated to AIDS patients. The decision came after the county Board of Supervisors cut the facility's funding for indigent patients by more than half. The house has an annual budget of $3 million. AHF said it needed at least $1.2 million from the county, the same amount as last year, to keep the center open. The board said it would give AHF $553,800 a year for AIDS patients not covered by Medi-Cal, Medicare or private insurance.
"It's very, very sad," AHF President Michael Weinstein said of the closure, which caps several years of wrangling between the foundation and the county over funding of Carl Bean. Last year, a county audit said AHF overcharged the county $348,000 for services provided at the facility, an accusation AHF disputes. Another audit is pending.
John Schunhoff, the county's chief of operations for public health, said that with fewer people dying of AIDS, Los Angeles County needs less hospice services. "It's a well-run facility, and I'm sorry to see that they are closing," said Schunhoff. "But it's a very expensive facility. ... There are other alternatives at a lower cost," such as nursing homes and hospices that do not specialize in AIDS care, he said. The county will fund Carl Bean for three more months to allow it time to relocate its approximately 18 remaining patients, he added.
In one sense, the closure of the 25-bed center in the West Adams district of Los Angeles is emblematic of advances in AIDS treatment that help patients live longer in better health. "But on the other hand, for minority and poor people, it's the same disease as it was ten years ago," said Dr. Thomas Coates, an AIDS expert at the University of California-Los Angeles. The care provided by Carl Bean is "exactly where it needs to be ... [for] the people who get the poorest care for HIV and AIDS," said Coates.
Los Angeles Times
03.04.06; Rong-Gong Lin II
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.