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Van Nuys Facility Opens Wednesday : AIDS Patients to Begin Hospice Move

Times Staff Writer

The first residential hospice for AIDS patients in the San Fernando Valley will open next week when patients begin moving into a renovated three-bedroom house near the Van Nuys Airport.

The Pioneer Home, so named because it is the only such hospice in the Valley, is operated by Hospice Los Angeles-Long Beach, which has three other homes in Southern California.

Pioneer Home will accommodate five AIDS patients whose life expectancy is 6 months or less. A waiting list for the home has 24 names, said John Maceri, president of the organization’s board.

Care is provided by a full-time staff. Maceri said patients are able to die in a “warm, safe, quiet place” instead of in a hospital room.

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“I think that a hospice is a far more humane approach to death,” Maceri said. “They’re coming here to die and they know that,” Maceri said. “We’re not here to make them well. We’re here to make them comfortable.”

In addition, hospices are a less costly than hospitals. The average daily cost of hospice care is $135, Maceri said, a fraction of that for a hospital room. The operation is funded by Los Angeles County, private donations and medical insurance.

Maceri said the organization decided to locate the facility in Van Nuys because the area has the third-highest concentration of AIDS cases in Southern California.

Officials said they do not expect neighborhood opposition to Pioneer Home like that facing the organization’s Hughes House in West Hollywood. There, residents have asked city officials to shut down the operation, saying it violates zoning restrictions.

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Pioneer Home is in a neighborhood of mixed residential and commercial uses. At an open house Wednesday for Pioneer Home, Van Nuys residents reacted positively.

“I think it’s beautiful,” said neighbor Jennie Castellani.


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