The Centers for Disease Control projects that nine thousand persons with AIDS will be alive in New England in 1991, representing a sevenfold increase from 1986. Our analysis indicates that more than 2 percent of medical/surgical beds in New England will be used for AIDS care by 1991, representing 766 fully occupied hospital beds. The direct cost of providing hospital care to New England's AIDS patients is projected to be $195.2 million in 1991, reflecting 3 percent of all hospital inpatient costs in the region.

AIDS treatment is very unevenly distributed among hospitals in New England. Just twenty hospitals (8 percent of short-term general hospitals in the region) provided over 60 percent of the care required by all AIDS patients in New England in 1986. If this trend continues, nearly 5 percent of all the beds available in these twenty institutions will be required for AIDS care by 1991.

Alternatives to inpatient care are an important means of limiting the demands the AIDS epidemic places on inpatient care facilities. A number of outpatient AIDS clinics have been established in New England hospitals, including clinics at Yale-New Haven Hospital and Rhode Island Hospital. However, skilled nursing facilities in New England, as in other parts of the country, are not prepared to care for AIDS patients. Similarly, the development of in-home services for AIDS patients is just beginning in New England.

Hospital planning for New England should begin addressing the need to expand alternative care services. Hospitals may begin by developing an integrated system of inpatient care with outpatient clinics and by designing units or multidisciplinary teams to care for AIDS patients. But even the best case management and discharge planning efforts cannot succeed if there is no place outside the hospital for AIDS patients to go. Each state needs to look closely at its capacity to provide long-term care, hospice care, and home care in order to fill gaps where they exist.


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