'AIDS Threat: How Serious?'

As immediate past president and executive director of the Hospice Organization of Southern California, I want to offer support to the commentary of Herman Kattlove ("AIDS Brings Urgency to Need for Hospices," Op-Ed Page, Aug. 16).

Home care agencies with hospice programs have been in the forefront of offering care to those faced with life-threatening disease and were the first to respond to persons with AIDS. Hospice programs of care offer compassionate, loving care along with a support system for the family and loved ones as well as palliative symptom and pain control. This care is provided in their primary place of residence. However all too often there is no such place for persons with AIDS. As Dr. Kattlove indicates, people with AIDS face such discrimination that they lose their jobs, then their homes, and needless to say, all insurance benefits as well.

Because of the grave concern of the hospice community over the quality of care for those facing a terminal disease, in 1984 a bill was introduced in Sacramento to provide licensing for hospice care. A very much watered-down version of this bill was vetoed by Gov. George Deukmejian because he did not want any new licensing programs instituted during his term of office. This bill in its original form is once again being prepared to be introduced in the Legislature by the Los Angeles AIDS Hospice Committee.

The acute need for housing for the persons with AIDS is cost efficient as well. Since the governor's budget cuts include the elimination of about 250 beds in the county hospitals, it is even more imperative for this community to support alternative living facilities for the persons with AIDS.

Hospice care is ready. Are the people who control health-care funds?



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