JourneyCare Acquires Northwestern Memorial Home Health & Hospice Assets

JourneyCare, the largest non-profit, community-based hospice and palliative care provider in Illinois, has acquired Northwestern Memorial HealthCare’s home health and hospice operations for an undisclosed sum. The transaction closed June 1.

The purchase extends JourneyCare’s hospice and palliative care footprint in the Chicago metropolitan area to three new counties, for a total of 13, and adds home health care to the organization’s service lines, which also include hospice, palliative care, care management, in-home primary care, and bereavement care.

Northwestern Memorial is a large academic health system affiliated with Evanston, Ill.-based Northwestern University.

“Both organizations are mission-driven and committed to serve the community as non-profit providers,” said Sarah Boburka, JourneyCare’s president and CEO. “This is the right thing for patients and the community at large, giving more access and more specialized health care options to improve overall quality of life.”

JourneyCare cited rising demand for in-home health care, including palliative care and hospice, as a driver for their expansion efforts, fueled by demographic tailwinds.

More than 50% of Medicare decedents expired while receiving hospice care in 2018, a record number. Industry-wide growth is expected across the continuum of in-home health care as payors and other stakeholders seek to cut costs by reducing hospitalizations.

JourneyCare is not seeking additional acquisitions during 2019, but the hospice provider wouldn’t rule out further purchases should opportunities present themselves.

“We recognize the national trend that more and more people want to remain independent and stay in their homes,” a JourneyCare spokesperson told Hospice News. “We are not actively looking for further acquisitions, but in Chicago we have a top-tier environment so we are always evaluating potential opportunities.”

The hospice mergers and acquisitions market has been growing hotter in recent years, with several major transactions during 2018 and the first quarter of 2019, a trend expected to continue through the rest of the year and into 2020.

Significant first quartet acquisitions include Amedisys (NASDAQ: AMED) closing a $340 million acquisition of Compassionate Care Hospice, making the company the third-largest U.S. hospice provider, as well as LHC Group’s (NASDAQ: LHCG) joint venture agreements with Unity Health and Geisinger Home Health and Hospice.

M&A activity in the home health care space has been slowing down due to industry concerns about the forthcoming patient-driven groupings model (PDGM), Home Health Care News reported earlier this month.

A JourneyCare spokesperson told Hospice News that the organization was in the process of evaluating the potential impact of PDGM on its newly acquired home health business.  

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