Winfield M. Kelly, the head of the corporation that runs three Prince George's County hospitals, said yesterday that health care for the county's growing elderly population will not be endangered by management changes planned at the troubled institutions.

Speaking to a gathering of about 100 members of Betterment for United Seniors, Kelly said that stricter patient admissions requirements initiated by the reconstituted hospital board will not cripple access by the elderly to quality care.

"Anyone in need of health care will be served by the hospital system," Kelly said to applause.

But, he added: "The days of us paying unlimited amounts of dollars for health care and not asking what it costs are over. It's a very competitive world."

Senior citizen advocates had expressed concern in recent weeks that a stricter indigent care policy and the restructuring of the hospital board could curtail access to health care for members of the county's fast-growing elderly population.

Because of competition, Kelly said, he will not release details of the corporation's management contract with Health Corp. of America, the company hired last summer to turn the system around.

Kelly, who has served as chairman of the Community Hospital and Health Care Systems Inc. (CHHCS) board since August, asked 24 board members to resign in September and is forming a new 11-member board to oversee operations for Prince George's General Hospital, Greater Laurel-Beltsville Hospital and the Bowie Health Center.

Kelly, County Council Administrator Samuel Wynkoop and county Chief Administrative Officer John Wesley White have already been named to the board. Yesterday, Kelly said Benjamin Pecson, a Prince George's General physician recommended by the county medical society, also has been nominated.

One other board member will be selected by each of the institutions. Kelly said he will make the final four appointments within two weeks.

Kelly, who is a former Prince George's County executive, also said that the corporation is committed to continued funding of the senior health center at the Cora B. Wood Multipurpose Senior Center in Brentwood, which has operated for 10 years on Community Development Block Grants. The county has reapplied for $165,000 in funding for the center, but a hospital spokeswoman said yesterday that the hospital is also looking for other funding sources.

Ralph Pryor, the president of Betterment for United Seniors, said that his group is concerned about both federal and local government commitment to funding support facilities for the aging.

"There is a concern that as long as the health center is dependent on the federal government for financial support, its future is not secure."