VITAS expands footprint in Florida with two new inpatient hospices
VITAS Healthcare, a palliative care subsidiary of Chemed Corp. (NYSE: CHEM), this week opened two hospitals in Broward County, Florida. One unit is housed at Broward Health Medical Center, the other at Sunrise Health and Rehabilitation, with VITAS planning to care for more than 900 patients a year at the new centers.
Broward Health’s inpatient unit has eight rooms with amenities aimed at providing home-like comfort in a clinical care setting, including overnight accommodations for friends and family. At Sunrise, 16 private patient rooms include similar amenities, as well as conversation and reflection spaces. Patients at each facility will receive 24/7 care from an interdisciplinary team of doctors, nurses, social workers, chaplains, volunteers and grief experts.
“We are honored to partner with Broward Health System to provide comprehensive, compassionate care to their patients and families,” said Betty Bel, VITAS Vice President of Operations. “The benefit is twofold in that patients with advanced disease have better support to align with their goals of care, and hospital staff can rely on our specialist teams to ensure a smooth transition. to the nearby hospital unit.
Both facilities continued their expansion into Florida for Miami-headquartered VITAS. Last year, the company opened an inpatient unit on the campus of AdventHealth Lake Wales Hospital and unveiled another at the Community Health and Rehabilitation Center, also in Florida. Other inpatient centers in the state include Broward Health North, Broward Health Coral Springs, and Florida Medical Center.
Each of the new inpatient centers includes private bathrooms, a private rest room, and shared family rooms and kitchens. The Sunset location includes outdoor space, children’s activities and specialized therapies. These include Paw Pals® pet therapy visits and care specific to the unique needs of end-of-life veterans, such as bedside greetings and Honor Flight virtual reality experiences.
VITAS has served patients in the Broward County area since 1980. The company operates 49 palliative care programs in 14 states and the District of Columbia, with 28 inpatient palliative care units nationwide. More than 9,880 staff provide advanced healthcare, with VITAS reporting an average daily count of over 17,780 patients at the end of the fourth quarter of last year.
“We are privileged to serve and support patients who require levels of care beyond routine palliative care service,” said Kathleen Coronado, General Manager of VITAS in Broward County. “The availability of this palliative care unit helps ease the concerns of hospitalized patients and their families, relieving some of the burden on hospital staff and rooms, while providing the high level of compassionate care that VITAS is known.”
A growing aging population is driving demand for palliative care in the Sunshine State. People age 60 and older are expected to make up 32.5% of Florida’s total population by 2030, a jump from about a quarter of adults age 65 and older currently living in the state, according to the US Census Bureau.
Florida in 2018 ranked third nationally for hospice utilization at 57.9%, among Medicare decedents, according to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. Only Utah and Arizona recorded higher rates at 59.4% and 59.2%, respectively.
The US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) reported in 2019 that more than 140,700 patients used the Medicare Hospice Benefit statewide, with reimbursement totaling more than $1.9 billion.
The Florida state government paved the way for the hospice’s expansion last year. The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) initially said it would approve four hospice certificates in seven counties in 2021, but ultimately approved nearly double that.
VITAS was among those who received a certificate of need, along with Alleo Health, Hernando-Pasco Hospice Inc., Amedisys (NASDAQ: AMED), Catholic Hospice Inc., Continuum Care of Miami Dade, Affinity Care of Manatee County, among others .