California: Maitri Hospice Is Last of Its Kind in San Francisco
June 13, 2006
At the height of the U.S. HIV/AIDS epidemic in the early 1990s, San Francisco had five AIDS hospices. Now, just one remains and, with only 15 beds, Maitri has constant waiting list.
"We are all blessed with the advances in medicine, but they don't work for everyone. They don't work forever," said Tim Patriarca, executive director of Maitri, where people have gone to die of AIDS-related illness since 1987. "Our patients know it is a hospice. Eighty percent of those who walk in here, die here," he said.
Maitri (pronounced My-Tree) provides classic hospice care, in which nearly all but pain medicines are withdrawn. In addition, Maitri offers skilled-nursing services for critically ill AIDS patients. A nurse and three assistants provide 24-hour care. Each day, meals are served family-style around a table or in each patient's room.
The hospice was founded by Issan Dorsey, a onetime drag queen, alcoholic, and IV drug user turned Buddhist monk. In 1987, Dorsey, who was HIV-positive, opened the Hartford Street Zen Center in the Castro for men dying of AIDS. Since that time, at least 420 patients, including Dorsey, have died at Maitri.
Though Maitri retains a strong Buddhist influence, the hospice caters to all faiths. In the meditation room, a bookshelf is stocked with the Bible, the Torah, the Quran, and the Tibetan Book of the Living and Dying.
San Francisco Chronicle
06.04.06; Sabin Russell
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.