Hospice of Rutherford County, Inc., doing business as Hospice of the Carolina Foothills (HOCF), has signed a letter of intent to sell its inpatient unit to Agape Hospice. The organizations will not release financial terms until completion of the due diligence period.
Under the letter of intent Agape Hospice has agreed to continue operation of the Smith-Phayer Hospice Inpatient Unit in Landrum, S.C., without rebranding or reducing staff. Upon completion of the sale Agape indicated it would expand the unit’s bed capacity from 12 to 30 or more. The facility opened in 2009.
Agape Hospice is a segment of Murrells Inlet, S.C.-based Agape Senior, a privately owned company with segments that provide physician and palliative care services, pharmacy, durable medical equipment service, and ambulance service, in addition to hospice. Agape Hospice has 11 offices in South Carolina.
“We are very pleased that Agape Hospice continues to be committed to providing quality hospice care for patients in their homes and inpatient facilities throughout the state,” Bob Keith, HOCF Board President said. “Agape is experienced in providing a full-range of services for South Carolina patients, so we feel confident that this decision is a win-win for the people in the area.”
HOCF indicated that proceeds for the sale, if finalized, would support their in-home hospice programs in its three-county South Carolina service area, as well as nearby Polk County.
Agape Hospice operates two other inpatient hospice units in Lexington and Columbia, S.C.; the hospice is currently building a third facility in the state at Goose Creek.
“The purchase of the Smith-Phayer facility will enable residents of South Carolina to access inpatient and home hospice care throughout the state,” Scott Middleton, CEO and Founder of Agape Hospice. “Hospice of the Carolina Foothills has a wonderful reputation in the Upstate, and we appreciate that the Board trusts us to continue to provide a quality continuum of care in their homes and in the Smith-Phayer facility.”
Patients are admitted to inpatient hospice care when their symptoms are too severe to manage in the home, or when they lack sufficient caregiver support in the home.
The letter of intent comes at a time when many hospice providers nationwide are struggling to maintain their inpatient facilities, as patients increasingly seek care in their residences.
Earlier this month Family Hospice and Compassionate Care in Pittsburgh announced it was phasing out its inpatient facility, reporting that the facility did not admit enough patients to maintain it. Last year, Allegheny Health Network also closed its residential hospice unit, as did the Visiting Nurses Association of Pennsylvania.
Utilization of inpatient hospice care has dropped in recent years, even as the use of hospice in general has increased. About 15 percent of hospice patients received care in an inpatient unit during 2017, down from more than 27% in 2012.
During that same period, the number of hospice patients receiving care in their private residence rose to 44 percent from 41 percent.