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Local News in Brief : Delayed Opening of AIDS Ward Decried

A special AIDS ward at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, which officials had hoped would be ready in less than six months, is now scheduled to open for patients in September of next year, a timetable that drew some criticism Friday at a meeting of the county Commission on AIDS.

“That’s an ambitious (schedule) but we are confident we can meet it,” Carl Williams, assistant director for health services, told the panel.

But some commission members, including Vice Chairman Rand Schrader, questioned why it will take so long to open the 20-bed facility and asked Williams if the opening could be speeded up. Williams blamed the delay on needed renovations and the difficulty in recruiting nurses and other workers to staff a special AIDS ward.

The Board of Supervisors approved the ward last August, and county officials had expressed hopes that it would be ready in six months. Preliminary estimates placed the start-up costs at $750,000 to $1 million.

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